AN Bord Pleanála is to review a decision by a local authority to allow the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company demolish buildings containing potentially harmful asbestos without planning permission, following an intervention by heritage body An Taisce.

The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company (DLHC) began demolishing a group of derelict buildings on the Carlisle pier in Dún Laoghaire on Monday. It plans to construct 100 car-parking spaces on the site as well as a new promenade that can be used as an outdoor exhibition and concert space.

In a letter to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council last week, An Taisce ex­pressed its "grave" concern that the local authority had permitted DLHC to demolish the buildings without planning permission. An Taisce maintains the harbour company needs planning permission to demolish the buildings because they are located within the area of the harbour itself, which is a protected structure.

In the letter, chairwoman of An Taisce in Dún Laoghaire Mairead Mehigan also said the fact that the council sanctioned the works without the preparation of an environmental impact statement was "irresponsible" because some of the structures on the pier contained asbestos.

"Asbestos kills and has a devastating effect on human health and the environment," she said. "On the basis of advice received, An Taisce is confident the work being undertaken on the Carlisle pier does not constitute exempt development and has formally requested a declaration from the council to that effect."

Mehigan's request for a declaration from the council will compel it to officially determine whether the demolition of the buildings requires planning permission.

This in turn means that An Bord Pleanála will have to carry out a review of the development to decide whether or not the works are subject to normal planning procedures.

Contractors working on behalf of the council demolished several of the buildings on the pier last week and specialists also removed asbestos from some of the walls in the buildings. Many of the buildings on the pier date from the 1950s, but contain elements dating back to the 19th century.

In a letter seen by the Sunday Tribune, Kathleen Holohan of the council's planning department wrote to all councillors this week saying the works did not require planning permission.

"The structures to be removed are not protected structures or national monuments and the planning authority, with the advice of the conservation division of the council, considers that the Carlisle pier falls outside the curtilage of those elements of the harbour, which are protected structures."

A spokesperson for DLHC said it had received external advice that the works did not require planning permission.