High Court overturns permission for Cork wind farm

Judge says process used by An Bord Pleanála did not comply with Irish law

File photograph:  David Sleator/The Irish Times

File photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

 

The High Court has overturned a grant of planning permission for a wind farm near Inchigeelagh, Co Cork.

Mr Justice Bernard Barton ruled the permission must be quashed after finding that the process under which An Bord Pleanála had decided relevant issues concerning compliance with two European Directives - the Habitats Directive and the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive - did not comply with Irish law.

The judge, whose written judgment will be formally published later, adjourned making formal orders in the case to March 10th.

The legal challenge was brought by Klaus Balz and Hanna Heubach, Bearr na Gaoithe, Inchigeelagh, over An Bord Pleanála’s grant of permission to Cleanrath Windfarm Ltd to construct 11 turbines up to a height of 126m, and other structures including a 85m meteorological mast, at Cleanrath, Co Cork. 

The couple operate a shrubbery business located some 650m from the nearest turbine on the proposed development.

Cork County Council had refused permission for the project in June 2011 because it considered that would result in destruction of a a habitat of high ecological value and have a major impact on an area of high local biodiversity value, the court heard. 

Because of this, the council held the proposed development would materially contravene the stated objectives of its current development plan. 

The council’s refusal was successfully appealed to An Bord Pleanála which in April 2013 granted permission.

The couple, represented by Eamon Galligan SC, instructed by solicitor Joe Noonan,  then initiated their judicial review proceedings against the Board with the council and Cleanrath Windfarm Ltd as notice parties.

The couple argued the board’s decision was flawed on grounds including failure to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) concerning the project.

The board, it was claimed, failed to carry out an appropriate assessment, as required under the Habitats Directive,  on nearby sites such as the Gearagh Special Area of Conservation and the Mullaghanish to Musheramore Special Protection Areas.