This was one of several campaigns during this period where developments were undertaken in sensitive areas with no planning permission.

In this case, the DUP Minister of the day pushed it through even though retrospective planning was refused, of the rather flimsy assertion that to remove the illegal structure might damage the environment…. !

Lecale Member Bill Corry learned of an application for retrospective planning permission for a site on the island, which includes the extension of a jetty, the conversion of a boathouse to a house and the installation of a sceptic tank, which Bill described as ‘illegal’.

Simmy island lies within an area of special scientific interest, as well as having Marine Nature Reserve and RAMSTAR status. This application is for a private residence and had been completed without prior planning permission, causing disturbance to the foreshore. The fact that it is a retrospective application shows total disregard for the environment by the applicant.

Bill Corry, in his capacity as Councillor, has been in correspondence with the Planning Service to highlight the effect the development has had on the area, as well as to highlight that the installation of a sceptic tank is illegal as it breaches discharge consent. He has demanded enforcement by the Planning Service at once pointing out that taking too many years to enforce would result in going outside the enforcement limit and wondered if this was the intention of the planning department.

The Planning Service replied to Bill with the information he requested on the application and have assured him that “the Department will pursue this matter until it has been satisfactorily resolved and in doing so will be conscious of any statutory time limits in respect of formal enforcement action.

Bill was concerned that enforcement proceedings have not been taken against this illegal development, which involves an unapproved development including an extended jetty, disturbance of the foreshore and the replacement of a boathouse with a house and an illegal installation of a septic tank in an area of special scientific interest.

Considerable delays in furnishing information by the applicant are noted on the file, and arrived outside of the deadlines required. Enforcement proceedings should have already been initiated.

Bill was also greatly disturbed to find that a Water Act discharge consent may have be illegally proposed for this development without reference to its status as a ASSI, SPA, SAC, Marine Nature Reserve and its RAMSTAR status. The septic tanks appear to be within the confines of the development itself, presumably to avoid earlier detection.

Bill pointed out that the file showed the EHS/NH seems to be under pressure to find ways of making this illegal development acceptable, and pointed out that the planning office and local politicians have no right to put the Natural Heritage service under pressure in this way. EHS/NH did not undertake this illegal development, and are not responsible for the consequences resulting from a correct decision to refuse retrospective permission.

Bill pressurised he planning service and Natural Heritage working together need to ensure that enforcement action under Water Quality issues, planning law and FEPA. He said that “If such a clear violation goes unchallenged the reputation of the two services and the letter of the law will be drawn into dispute.”

Lecale Conservation Association supported bill by writing to the European Commission drawing their attention to the apparent failure to protect this site under the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC by ‘the competent authorities’ IE the planners and associated Departments involved in failing to take action in this case.