A Carrigtwohill bloodstock trader who admitted filling 45,000 tonnes of construction rubble into a lagoon - turning it into a place to gallop horses – was fined €50,000 today.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said he was influenced by the lack of specific evidence from Cork County Council on it causing a risk of flooding, and today’s engineering evidence called by the defence that there was no flooding being caused by the land reclamation.
John Collins, 43, of Brown Island, Ballintubrid West, Carrigtohill, County Cork, was fined for disposing of waste in a manner likely to cause environmental pollution at that address on June 3 2014.
While the charge specifies pollution, Judge Ó Donnabháin said the materials dumped were concrete and dry rubble and “there is no evidence that the contents of the material is a cause of concern for anybody.”
The judge said the evidence from Cork County Council had been that there was a flooding risk because the water had to go somewhere but the judge said there was no particular evidence of any flooding occurring.
Against that, there was evidence called by the defence today from consulting engineer, Philip O’Doherty.
Mr O’Doherty said removal of the dumped material would be a monumental operation costing €750,000.
Ray Boland, defence barrister, said, there was still tidal water in the area.
After Mr O’Doherty’s evidence, the judge said, “Now I have specific evidence there is no flooding which is a very pertinent consideration for me.”
The judge said that the defendant’s behaviour reclaiming land by allowing the dumping of up to 2,000 truckloads of builders rubble was continuous and blatant even when he knew he should not have continued doing it.
In the absence of evidence of any environmental concern about what was concrete and dry builders’ rubble he was not going to order any remediation at the location.
Previously, Nicholas Bond, waste enforcement officer seconded by Cork County Council, outlined the background to the case.
In January 2014 they received a report that construction and demolition waste in significant quantities was being dumped in a special area of conservation.
“We served a notice requiring all the work to cease. We invited the landowner, John Collins, to hear his side of the story on February 10, 2014. He came in with a planning consultant and they said they had agreement with the National Parks and Wildlife to do works strengthening banks.
“The National Parks and Wildlife said they had some agreement for minor bank-strengthening works but that these works far exceeded this agreement. The requirement to cease all activities was still in place,” Mr Bond said.
The witness said that two-acre lagoon which flooded with water twice a day and was a special protection area for birds and wildlife was filled in fully except for a stream of about three metres in width.
“We are very anxious that it would stop, that he would stop working on the site… We got no remediation plan (from defendant),” Mr Bond said.
Prosecution barrister, Donal O’Sullivan said the maximum penalty for the offence, to which John Collins pleaded guilty, was €15 million and up to ten years in prison.