New Planning Rules To Allow Future Development Of Quarries

Author:Mr Deirdre O'Mahony and Yvonne Scannell
Profession:Arthur Cox

New planning rules allow quarries to apply to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) for permission for future development in conjunction with 'substitute consent' applications for historic development.

If you have spent the last five years getting to grips with the planning rules applicable to historic quarry development, you may not be pleased to learn that new planning rules have recently been introduced. Look closer, however, and you should be pleasantly surprised. The new rules are not intended to inflict more hardship on quarry owners for historic development, but to facilitate them in securing planning consent for future development.


In 2010, significant changes to planning law, including changes relevant to quarries, were introduced under the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010. The changes were to respond to a judgment of the European Court that criticised the State for historic failures to control development requiring environmental impact assessment and, specifically, for allowing retention permission for unauthorised development that should have been subject to environmental impact assessment (Case C-215/06).

The main changes relevant to quarries were to:

Oblige planning authorities to refuse applications for retention permission for development that would have required impact assessment or screening for impact assessment. Limit the so-called 'seven year rule' so that it does not operate to protect quarry development commenced for over seven years from enforcement action. Clarify the provisions relating to the registration of quarries under section 261. Allow for regularisation of quarry development that should have been but was not subject to impact assessment or screening for impact assessment by way of application to ABP for 'substitute consent' under section 261A. 261A was upheld by the High Court in McGrath Limestone Works Limited v An Bord Pleanála (2014/78 JR) (under appeal). FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

261A was not designed to permit further development of quarries to deepen or extend existing areas of extraction. Therefore, the best outcome you could hope to achieve was to secure substitute planning consent for existing hole/s in the ground. In order to extend your quarry, until recently, once you got a grant of substitute consent, you were expected to start afresh by making an application for permission in the ordinary way.

Now, under the new section 37L of the Planning and Development Act, quarry owners...

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