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Anglers to challenge River Faughan apartment plans


The River Faughan

The River Faughan

The River Faughan

An environmental campaigner has won High Court permission to challenge plans to build a new fishing tourism facility near Derry.

Dean Blackwood was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the decision to approve six cottage-style apartments and a manager's dwelling along the River Faughan.

Development authorised by the city's council in January also includes landscape works at the site opposite Lismacarrol and Glenshane Roads in Crossballycormick.

Mr Blackwood is the voluntary chair and director of the River Faughan Anglers Ltd, a cross-community, not for profit organisation set up to manage fishing rights.

He claims the scheme could have a significant impact on a stretch of water afforded the highest environmental protection in Europe.

Under the Habitats Directive it has been designated special conversation status for salmon, otters and oak woodland, he said.

Mounting the legal challenge as a personal litigant, he claimed a failure to carry out proper assessments before granting planning permission.

It was also alleged that the impact of the proposed development on a protected species of bats was not considered.

Ruling on a preliminary stage in the action, Mr Justice McCloskey acknowledged the frustrations of Catherine Deery, the woman behind the planning application.

He said she has found herself "in common with every developer in this litigation context, caught in the crossfire between the challenging litigant and the deciding authority".

However, the judge held that Mr Blackwood had established an arguable case.

He listed proceedings for a full hearing in September.

Outside court Mr Blackwood insisted a major concern was the potential impact on spawning salmon and migrating fish.

"I'm happy we've obtained leave to seek a judicial review, because we are raising important issues of public interest that need to be tested in court.

"We're seriously concerned that the decisions of the council could end up having an adverse impact on the River Faughan."

Belfast Telegraph