Friday, 23 January 2015

Ramsgate Port & O'Regan's Things You Need to Know

Green Councillor and South Thanet Parliamentary Candidate, Ian Driver, has called on TDC to “conduct an extremely thorough examination of the history of the O’Regan Group and its associated companies before it contemplates developing any type of commercial relationship with this organisation”.
Driver’s warning is based upon information he has uncovered about the involvement of companies linked to the O’Regan Group in major pollution scandals and court cases in Ireland.
In an article in the Irish Times of May 2005 it was reported that

Cork County Council could face a clean-up bill of €43 million if an environmental study on the effect of illegal dumping on an area of special conservation concludes that the area requires restoration. The council will take a €200,000 civil action in the High Court in Dublin next week against the firm responsible for the dumping, in an effort to secure funding for a full investigation into the ecological damage.
In February, Aggregate Supplies and Transport (AST) Ltd was fined €100,000 for dumping 100,000 tonnes of waste at Weir Island, Barryscourt, Carrigtwohill, Co Cork. The council had claimed AST was using builders' rubble, soil, subsoil, plastics and timber to fill in an old quarry, and that the dumping also affected 5,000-6,000 square metres designated as a natural heritage area of special conservation. AST, through Louis O'Regan, pleaded guilty to disposing of waste without an appropriate licence at the site on December 17th, 2003, and to a second charge of holding, recovering or disposing of waste in a manner that was likely to cause pollution. Judge Patrick Moran said: "This was no small enterprise to bring 100,000 tonnes of waste on to the site. The defendant had a total disregard for the requirements of waste management legislation." Despite the success of the criminal proceedings against AST, the council is left with the problem of cleaning up the area. A council source said: "The questions are, to what extent the quarry will have to be cleared out or capped, and to what extent the material will have to be removed to have some of the wildlife habitats restored." Full ecological investigation of the site will cost an estimated €200,000. The council has already received a quote of €43 million if the site has to be restored. It will appear before Judge Frank Clarke on Thursday to sue AST for €200,000. It is also expected to ask the judge to "lift the corporate veil" to make Mr O'Regan personally responsible for damages. It is thought Cork council will cite a High Court case of July 2002, when Judge Philip O'Sullivan made such a judgment in a case of illegal dumping, Wicklow County Council v Fenton, Swalcliffe Ltd. Swalcliffe's directors were ordered to carry out remediation work on a site in Coolnamadra, despite claiming they had no knowledge of illegal dumping. When contacted by The Irish Times, Mr O'Regan, who owns the land and the quarry, denied the material was affecting an area of special conservation and vowed to fight any personal liability. "I am not concerned in the least, as the legal owner of the material is actually the council. It is their responsibility. I will appeal it to the European Commission as the material came from projects funded by the EU," he said. "The material there has not and will not ever cause any pollution. I live there. It's immaculate."

In an Irish Examiner article  dated 26 June  2008 an O’Regan Group related company is alleged by the Irish Government to have been involved in the unauthorised excavation to toxic material at the site of a former Irish Steel Plant at  Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour, in what has become one of Ireland’s most serious pollution scandals in recent times. 

The Department of the Environment last night said any suggestions of a “cover-up” of the scale of the contamination at the Irish Steel site were “entirely false”. In a statement, the department said it had acted on best expert advice when deciding how to deal with the waste at the site. The department said it had hired Hammond Lane Metal Company Ltd to carry out a “surface clearance” of the site and its waste tip. The waste and debris on the surface had been caused by the demolition and decontamination of the Irish Steel buildings.
Inert waste beneath the surface — such as in the lagoons — was to remain untouched. It is understood expert advice suggested this inert waste would prove an immediate threat only if disturbed. The surface clearance was the “final step” in getting the site to a position where a risk analysis, could be carried out and decisions taken on its future remediation. However, the site surface clearance was not undertaken by Hammond Lane, but by subcontractors Louis J O’Regan Ltd. The department made clear it had never entered a contract with the latter.
“Louis J O’Regan Ltd is a sub-contractor of a sub-contractor of Hammond Lane Metal Company Ltd,” said the department. Louis J O’Regan Ltd uncovered a “sub-surface sludge pit” of hazardous waste and began “a series of unauthorised works”, the department said — in other words, removing some of the waste from the lagoon. The department, with the Environmental Protection Agency and Cork County Council, wanted the lagoon capped with inert slag material — to ensure the waste did not pose a threat.
“Despite repeated instructions to stop these unauthorised works, including by letter from the Chief State Solicitor’s Office on May 23, 2008, the sub-contractor continued to excavate significant volumes of buried hazardous material,” said the statement. “Following legal advices, the contract with Hammond Lane was terminated with immediate effect on May 30, 2008, with instructions to vacate the site by 17.00 Tuesday, June 3, 2008.
“The sub-contractors refused and continued to operate without authorisation and in a piecemeal fashion, causing a threat to the environment by its actions. They finally left the site following discussions with Hammond Lane Metal Company Ltd,” the department added.
With the EPA and the council, the department said it organised “an immediate assessment” of the situation by environment consultants. “All such necessary works will be undertaken to secure the site and ensure that no danger is presented to the local environment or residents arising from unauthorised actions by Louis J O’Regan Ltd and pending the Government’s decision on the future use of the site.”
 In an article  on the Business Irish website dated 11 June 2008 details of O’Regan’s battle with the Bank of Scotland Ireland over a large unpaid debt are recounted;  along with an account about a claim on the estate of alleged relative in the USA who’s body  was exhumed after more 60 years for DNA testing.   
A Cork businessman embroiled in a $160m inheritance battle featured in an RTE documentary has been served with a €196,000 judgment by Bank of Scotland Ireland (BOSI). Detailed in next week's Stubbs Gazette, the judgment was registered against Louis O'Regan on June 3 after BOSI's financing of Mr O'Regan's machinery for a quarry project turned sour.
Mr O'Regan, a businessman in his own right, is best known for co-piloting his father Dermot's 20-year battle to establish a claim on the estate of an American woman who died in 1941. Culminating in the exhumation of two bodies in 2004 and featured in RTE's 2005 'Family Silver' series, the inheritance battle is ongoing. The claim could ultimately see Dermot O'Regan become heir to the American's $160m fortune.
Mr O'Regan last night confirmed the €200,000 judgement but said he had already began moves to counter sue BOSI.  The judgment stemmed from a dispute over money the bank loaned to Louis J O'Regan Ltd to buy machinery for quarrying work linked to the Ennis bypass, Mr O'Regan said. He added that his company later lost the bypass contract to Whelan Limestone Quarries, a competitor whose undertakings BOSI has had a floating charge over since 2003, as confirmed by records in the Companies Office. "I could write Bank of Scotland a cheque in the morning, but I'm not going to because as far as I'm concerned they're subsidising a competitor of mine, and on that basis I'm taking a legal challenge," Mr O'Regan said.
He added that BOSI is still advancing money to Whelan's even though the company's most recently published accounts are for 2003. Companies Office records show BOSI has given three loans to Whelan's since the floating charge was secured in 2003. A spokesman for the bank last night declined to comment on the bank's dealings with either Mr O'Regan or Whelan's, citing the ongoing legal wranglings. Mr O'Regan's other claims to fame include a 2003 plan to build a €10m explosives firm in Munster which ultimately morphed into a 2005 joint venture to build an explosives firm in the UK.
Meanwhile, the inheritance battle returned to the headlines in February. Mr O'Regan's family was given leave to have further tests carried out on samples from the exhumed bodies. "We're still pursuing the inheritance, but I'm snowed under with work at the moment," said Mr O'Regan. His company's activities include a new readymix plant in East London, a cement import business in south London, cleaning up the Irish Steel site in Cork, and quarrying work in Lismore, Co Waterford.

Said Driver “the evidence I have uncovered   about the O’Regan Group and its owners is causing me to wonder if they are fit and proper persons to be operating a concrete block manufacturing and waste wood processing facility at the Port of Ramsgate. I am also aware of  other issues relating to the O’Regan Group  which also raise serious questions about their plans and suitability about which I will be posting on my blog shortly and speaking to the  Council about. In my opinion I do not believe that the O’Regan Group should be allowed to operate at the Port of Ramsgate or anywhere else in Thanet. Should there be an application for planning permission or an environmental permit or negotiations to rent space,  I will be making my views  known through the proper channels. I am astounded   that 2 former senior officers of Thanet Council would try to pass off a deal with a company with such a questionable track record as being good for Thanet and Ramsgate. Mind you I shouldn't be that surprised  because one of these former officers helped to do the secret debt deferral deal with TransEuropa Ferries which has cost council taxpayers £3.4million 


  1. Should the obvious public wish that this group doesn't even start making any application be ignored, what are the loop holes that would enable them to go against the concerns of the majority. Are TDC's hands tied in any way, such as with the Jo-Line trade, that could let them commence?

  2. You did well to dig that information up I wonder what will happen now

  3. Good investigative story Ian Driver. The Labour party are in office and they've done nothing to check O'Regan's out. All happy to blow words of opposition and no action!

  4. well done Ian why weren't the civil servants on top of this? They seem to be doing nothing but let Brian White push this through

  5. Is this an indication of why Brian White has had so many former employers?

  6. Ian, I wonder if O'Regan Group have any thoughts about using a facility in Ramsgate Port for processing the concrete that will be removed from Manston's runway?

  7. Amazing bit of investigative work there Ian, no doubt you found that just by trying. TDC should hold their heads in shame that a rouge operator like this can make it through the start gate let alone get to this point. Just shows how competent Doug Brown and Brian White are if they're happy dealing with a company like this. What a JOKE they and the council are!

  8. Great work Ian although, maybe you should teach Thanet District Council how to do their homework before going to press!!! This will create few RED faces!!!!