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Dublin City Council plans to apply for permission to build a 120-metre wall on the north side of a massive illegal dump in Priorswood, as the next step towards clearing the site, councillors were told on Monday.

The wall would be about 2.5 metres high, and it’s meant to stop any more illegal dumping, says a report to councillors.

The council also intends to put in a new footpath and do some minor landscaping where the wall meets the road, the report says.

Residents in the neighbourhood around the dump have for years complained of growing mounds of waste on their doorsteps, on council land that is supposed to be a park.

For years, they were ignored. Past council commitments to clear the site at speed were never met.

At Monday’s North Central Area Committee meeting, director of services Derek Kelly said that the move to progress the wall was part of the ongoing conversations about clearing the illegal dump.

“This is one of the links in the chain, I suppose, of finally bringing that matter to a conclusion,” he said.

Kelly said the plan is to clear the dump as they build the wall.

Local councillors had questions about what the wall would look like and also about how the waste would be removed safely, given that an assessment has shown it includes contaminated materials.

At the Meeting

At the meeting, councillors backed the plans to build the wall – but with some caveats.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Racheal Batten asked that the council make an effort to ensure the wall is visually attractive. “I’ve no issue other than that.”

Said Marie Gavin, a council engineer: “We are looking at different finishes that can be applied.” They will add a footpath, and also formalise the existing temporary routes at either end of the wall too, she said.

Sinn Féin Councillor Larry O’Toole said he wanted a better sense of how protective the wall would be against further illegal dumping.

Proposed location of wall. Image from Dublin City Council report.

Independent Councillor John Lyons said the council now needed to start discussions around what “community gain” would be as part of the clean up.

“Obviously, the absence of an illegal dump on their doorstep is a community gain in one way. It should never have been allowed to happen in the first place,” he said.

But there have been suggestions that the space – once cleared of waste – should, for example, become a linear park, he said. The council needs to open that conversation, he said.

Kelly said that any discussion around community gain and future use is separate to the wall and the waste removal.

(That’s a change. Previously, the council had said it wouldn’t clear it until it was ready to redevelop the land.)

“There was talk of community centres being built there, football pitches, all number of things, potentially additional housing,” said Kelly.

They are things to discuss, he said. “But the Parks Department, I think, would like to just bring this back to a park space.” But who knows what the future will hold, he said.

Current Timelines

Lyons asked for a clear timeline for next steps, sketching out his understanding.

It would be six weeks, say, until the council formally files for planning permission for the wall, and then it would take some time for the decision, he said.

“Probably August, September before work commences on the construction of the wall and the removal of the waste?” he said.

Said Gavin, the council engineer: “We are trying to move this forward as fast as we can.”

“But it will be probably end of the autumn before that decision comes back on that,” she said, of the planning application.

The council is procuring contractors while the planning process happens though, she said, so that they’re ready to go when permission comes through.

At the same time as drawing up designs for the wall, the council has also been working on the assessments of the waste that are needed before it is removed, said Kelly. “The wall will be kind of built in tandem with the removal of the waste, is the intention.”

Social Democrats Councillor Patricia Roe said she had a question about the waste removal. “Some of which is toxic, and how that will be done.”

Said Gavin: “There are some contaminated materials in there.”

They will use specialist contractors able to deal with that, she said. “It’ll just be done in accordance with the EPA guidelines.”

In February, engineers with RPS Group sent an updated environmental assessment of what is in the dump to council officials.

The report estimated that the mounds currently cover more than 7,200m2. The volume of waste is now estimated at almost 21,700m3, it says.

John Wenger, a professor in physical and environmental chemistry at University College Cork, said that the results in the report indicate that all of the samples had low or very low levels of contamination. “And are representative of non-hazardous waste.”

“All in all, the results indicate that the waste deposited at the site has not affected the soil or the groundwater to any detectable extent,” he said.

An earlier assessment done in February 2020 found asbestos sheeting on top of the dump. In the February 2023 assessment, the RPS Group engineers also mention asbestos sheeting, and recommend removing this from the surface at the outset of the waste removal.

Given that asbestos-containing materials were present, the engineers also recommend that a qualified subcontractor performs a “watching brief” and does reassurance air quality monitoring for the duration of the removal works.

Lois Kapila

Lois Kapila is Dublin Inquirer's editor and general-assignment reporter. Want to share a comment or a tip with her? Send an email to her at

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