Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Sixth Report

Annex G

E-mail to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

from Mr David Gordon

Further to my e-mail of 16/2/2001, further information has now come to light.

Roy Beggs MP has publicly confirmed that he owns the land at Ballyrickard Road ("I will be vindicated", Larne Gazette, 21/2/01).

A copy of this newspaper article can be faxed or posted, if required.

Mr Beggs further stated that he bought the site in 1984, and subsequently received planning permission for an agricultural improvement scheme, involving inert waste tipping.

There are still two central unanswered questions in relation to the MPs' Register of Interests:

1) Why did Mr Beggs not declare the land at Ballyrickard Road, under section eight of the Register?

This land is not part of his farm. Nor could it all be described as farmland, given the extensive landfill waste operation based within it.

The exact size of the MP's land holding has not yet been determined. However, a further resident of the area, Mr Leslie Hood, has stated that it is approx 17 acres.

Some months before Mr Beggs acquired the land, planning permission for a bungalow was granted to the then landowner. (Department of Environment planning reference no. F/137/83)

This presumably significantly increased the value of the land. It is not yet known if the approval has since lapsed or been renewed, but the principle of housing development has been established at the site.

Mr Beggs' infilling agricultural improvement scheme is also presumably designed to enhance the land value, by restoring it to agricultural use. Permission for it was granted in 1989 (ref no F/89/0398).

The MP has stated (Larne Gazette, ibid) that when the landfill scheme is completed, the area will be "sewn with grass and used for grazing".

2) Why did Mr Beggs not declare the landfill waste operation, under section 2 or section 10 of the MPs' Register of Interests?

The landfill is licensed solely in the name of Mr Beggs, c/o his constituency office in Larne.

Mr Beggs is adamant that neither he nor his family have received any financial benefits from the operation, which is solely managed by the firm DJ McKee and Son.

Customs and Excise has confirmed that, as site licence holder, Mr Beggs is legally responsible for the landfill tax payments. (Reported by Larne Times, 22/2/01)

Mr Beggs has also indicated that he intends to meet the clean-up costs originating from a breach of control at the dump.

He therefore has a financial involvement— with regard to both tax payments and clean-up costs.

So according to Mr Beggs' account, he has been allowing a firm to tip waste on his land, for profit, over a number of years at no charge—while apparently shouldering the burden of tax payments and other responsibilities himself.

This is a very generous act of benevolence on his behalf.

Leaving side any questions about his account, there is also the question of indirect pecuniary benefit to Mr Beggs.

In planning terms, the landfilling is an agricultural improvement scheme aimed at improving the land and thereby enhancing its value.

Mr Beggs, as the landowner, is therefore the ultimate beneficiary from the landfill operation.

Even at this level, should he not have declared the waste operation to Parliament?

22 February 2001

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