Couple not allowed to include alleged impact on bats in planning challenge

Case concerns permission for development comprising 482 apartments in Carrickmines

Last June, the High Court granted Ultan and Edel O’Brien leave to challenge the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for the Carrickmines development under strategic housing provisions. Photograph: iStock

Last June, the High Court granted Ultan and Edel O’Brien leave to challenge the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for the Carrickmines development under strategic housing provisions. Photograph: iStock

 

A couple challenging permission for 482 apartments in blocks of up to 22 storeys near their home in south Dublin have failed in a High Court application to amend their legal action to include the alleged impact of the development on bats, a judge ruled.

Ultan and Edel O’Brien live on Golf Lane, Glenamuck Road, Carrickmines, the same lane where developer Bowbeck DAC has obtained permission for the apartment development along with a creche, a gym and a local shop.

Last June, the High Court granted them leave to challenge the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for the development under strategic housing provisions.

The O’Briens say they are not opposed to development on the site but believe this plan represents “significant overdevelopment” with “profound consequences for biodiversity and environmental protection”.

The grounds of the challenge include contravention of building height guidelines and of the county development plan.

Subsequently, in July last year, they sought to amend their action to include the ground that there was a failure by An Bord Pleanála to comply with the EU Habitats Directive relating to the protection of habitats of bats.

They also say if it is found there was no such obligation on the board to comply with the directive, then, in the alternative, the Attorney General and Ireland, who are also respondents with the board, had incorrectly transposed the directive into Irish law.

Mr Justice Michael Twomey refused permission for them to amend their grounds.

Fundamental issue

In seeking to do so, the judge said the O’Briens claimed what was at stake was a fundamental issue of European environmental law. They were entitled to rely on whatever legal provisions there are for the protection of bats, he said.

“However, while it is, of course, true that the rights of bats are important, it is also the case that the public interest, in providing badly needed housing for residents of this State, is also important,” said the judge.

In this instance, it is the “public interest in the provision of housing which takes precedence”, he said.

This was in circumstances where the Oireachtas set down very tight time limits for any challenges to planning applications such as these and the O’Briens were outside that time limit in bringing this ground of challenge, he said.