A 75-year-old diver is stalling waste-dumping plans from Ireland's largest company

CRH subsidiary Roadstone has been delayed from filling a disused quarry with construction refuse.

By Conor McMahon Deputy editor, Fora

A SEPTUAGENARIAN DIVER has stalled plans by a subsidiary of building materials group CRH – Ireland’s largest company – to fill a defunct, flooded quarry with waste material.

Construction firm Roadstone Ltd received planning permission last month to backfill Calary Quarry near Kilmanaogue village in County Wicklow.

The quarry spans about 12 acres and is around 28m deep. The company had previously extracted bedrock from the region, however the empty pit has since filled with water, effectively becoming a man-made lake.

In its planning application, submitted in May 2016, Roadstone requested permission to drain the quarry and fill it with 3.2 million tonnes of unwanted soil, stone and construction waste.

Roadstone said the project would take 10 to 12 years to complete with up to 12 heavy-goods vehicle movements per hour on every day except Sundays and bank holidays.

At the end of the project, the lake would be turned into a “grassland habitat similar to that which existed prior to quarrying”, it said.

Wicklow County Council granted Roadstone permission for the project in March, but a local diving enthusiast has appealed that decision to An Bord Pleanála.

Albert Kerr, who has an address in Bray, wrote a letter to the planning board on behalf of “a group of environmentally concerned local people, and activity, adventure and sporting groups”.

calgary quarry An aerial view of the quarry

‘Pleasure and adventure’

In his submission to the planning board, Kerr said: “Calary Quarry has, since being abandoned by Roadstone, filled with water and become a scenic lake located at the side of the beautiful Sugar Loaf Mountain.”

He said the lake “has the potential to become an ideal all-year-round public recreational facility” and listed a number of potential outdoor activities that could be facilitated there, including scuba diving, kayaking, abseiling and wind surfing.

He said the amenity would bring “pleasure and adventure” into the lives of young people living nearby.

A well-known local resident, Kerr has been diving for more than five decades. He has also gone diving in other disused quarries around the country.

The 75-year-old has long championed for the Calary site to be used as a recreational facility. He proposed to Bray Municipal District in December 2015 that the quarry should be earmarked for outdoor pursuits.

According to a report in the Bray People at the time, councillor Christopher Fox said that if the site was to become a commercial adventure destination it would make more sense for a company rather than the local authority to develop it.

“What sort of public funds would it cost for the council to purchase this site?” he said.

The An Bord Pleanála case is due to be decided in August.

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