Belfast Telegraph

Challenge to gold mine approval concludes

By Alan Erwin

A Stormont department took all necessary steps to deal with any environmental concerns over waste rock from a Co Tyrone goldmine extension, the High Court has heard.

As a legal challenge to the granting of planning permission for underground work at Cavanacaw near Omagh drew to a close yesterday, a judge was told efforts were made to ensure a monitoring regime was in place.

Local man William Donnelly is seeking a judicial review of former Environment Minister Mark H Durkan's decision to approve the project in 2015.

In a wide-ranging attack, he contends that retrospective permission was granted for the removal of waste rock without an adequate environmental impact assessment.

But counsel for the Department, Tim Mould QC, insisted: "There's ample evidence that the Department (through) its advisers applied its mind carefully and pragmatically to the issues that were raised by the application."

Mr Mould added that existing regulatory arrangements ensured any risks would be managed, controlled and remedied.

The barrister argued that unless the judge decided it had acted in a perverse or unreasonable way, then the challenge must fail.

He has also insisted work was already covered by previous planning approval, which had been obtained more than 20 years ago.

With all oral arguments now completed, Madam Justice McBride set a deadline of the end of next week for any further written submissions in the case.

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