Residents allowed to continue Dublin Bay sewerage scheme challenge

Dublin City Council must await outcome before Ringsend project goes ahead

Kite surfing  in Dublin Bay near Sandymount. Residents of Sandymount and Merrion want to block the proposed ¤270 million Ringsend scheme to pipe the waste of about 1.8 million people into Dublin Bay. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Kite surfing in Dublin Bay near Sandymount. Residents of Sandymount and Merrion want to block the proposed ¤270 million Ringsend scheme to pipe the waste of about 1.8 million people into Dublin Bay. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Mon, Mar 25, 2013, 16:38

Dublin City Council will have to await the outcome of a major legal challenge to its proposed €270 million Ringsend scheme to pipe the waste of about 1.8 million people into Dublin Bay.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton today dismissed an application by the local authority to strike out legal proceedings by concerned residents of Sandymount and Merrion who want to block the development.

In a reserved judgment he said Sandymount, with a huge sandy beach stretching far out into the Irish Sea, was partly below sea level. The council wanted to bring up to date a sewerage works designed for Dublin when it had many fewer residents.

He said An Bord Pleanála had granted planning permission in 2012 for an enlargement of the sewerage works which included a 9km pipeline that would discharge treated effluent into Dublin Bay.

The residents claimed the discharge would affect a special area of conservation. In January last they had obtained an injunction temporarily restraining development of the works while they brought their legal challenge.

They are looking for orders to overturn An Bord Pleanála’s permission granted last November, just weeks before the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht proposed designating a 40km coastal stretch from Howth to Dalkey Island as a special area of conservation.

Niall Handy, for the residents, had argued they were actively involved in the Ringsend plant planning process from the outset and were entitled to seek judicial review of the council’s plan.

He said this was not a “not in my back yard” argument as there were much wider issues at stake for all of Dublin Bay.

Judge Charleton said the council had asked the High Court to strike out the residents’ challenge on the grounds they failed to disclose that the work had already begun and also that, being an unincorporated association, they had no capacity in law to bring a judicial review of the scheme.

The judge said the grounds for seeking discontinuance of action by the residents for failure to disclose were exceptionally weak and he dismissed this feature of the council’s application.

He also dismissed the council’s application on grounds that they constituted an unincorporated association. He said ministerial regulations prohibiting unincorporated associations from seeking to appeal planning decisions did not exist.