Thursday, 18 March 2010

Not Marconi's Cottage III - Public Road Blocked; Boulders Removed from Foreshore

Click to enlarge
Official explanations as to why the Planning Service changed its mind and permitted demolition of the old coalyard cottage and Moyle District Council 'nodded' the plans through a few days before Christmas 2008 have not yet been provided. Planning Service had listed strong objections the previous March yet the plans were bundled with seven other applications with no objections in December.

["bundling" of planning applications and other potentially-controversial measures is a favourite weapon in the arsenal of both local and national government. Where would you hide a tree ? In a wood. .. a friend, 22.03.2010]

The new shoreside fence is still in place despite the need for Planning Service sanction.

Do Moyle Council officials have a duty to inform the relevant Government departments and agencies of possible breaches of regulations in Moyle Council district?

A substantial gate and posts with a degree of permanence now block the public road about forty metres from the new house. I'm told that it was Roads Service's intention that this public road should be maintained as it was prior to the demolition of the cottage. Who gave permission for the gate and posts to be erected?

Can boulders be legally removed from the foreshore without official permission? Has such permission been granted?

These stones look as if they could have come from the foreshore.

This photo shows stones being broken with a sledge hammer.

Some boulders appear to have been lifted onto the trailer with the digger. Tracks down on the foreshore indicate the use of something similar to a dumper.

These works were reported through the Heritage Trust to NIEA on Tuesday 16th March. This site is in the Ballycastle Coalfields ASSI and I understand that NIEA were out on the site the same day and that this is now an ongoing investigation. .. Moyle DC

Adds March 19

There has not yet been a response from Moyle DC or DRD about the erection of the gate and posts.

Adds March 22

We have been in contact with DRD Roads Service about the gate and it is our understanding that this section of the road is to be closed off only during the construction period, with alternative access for walking to Fairhead being provided by the contractor. There is no intention to abandon this part of the road and once the construction is complete the Road will be reopened. .. Moyle DC

I'm still awaiting a reply from DRD. Perhaps DRD can confirm whether or not Moyle DC's understanding is correct. The present gate and posts do not look like a temporary structure.

And just a reminder from the Red Book on access:

Article 3 of the Access Order places each district council under a duty to assert public rights of way, and to compile and preserve maps of public rights of way in its district.

It seems a shame that the former track bed towards Fairhead which was formerly used for transporting coal hasn't been maintained in a more accessible state. It's a very popular route for both local walkers and visitors. It would be nice to see the local council pay greater attention to both the natural and built heritage. The way the demolition of the coalyard cottage was handled brings little credit to the Council or to the Planning Service.