Energia challenges Minister’s priority order on licence applications

The group claims the move will delay two of its offshore wind farms

Energia has taken a High Court challenge over a decision  to prioritise applications for licences allowing preliminary works on sites earmarked for offshore wind farms. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Energia has taken a High Court challenge over a decision to prioritise applications for licences allowing preliminary works on sites earmarked for offshore wind farms. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Energia has taken a High Court challenge over a decision by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to prioritise applications for licences allowing preliminary works on sites earmarked for offshore wind farms.

Energia Group Holdings DAC and two of its subsidiaries, Energia Renewables ROI Ltd and Energia Offshore Wind Ltd, claim the minister’s decision will delay two offshore wind farm projects which it wants to develop.

The two subsidiaries applied in 2019 for foreshore licences allowing them carry out certain works concerning the two separate projects off Helvick Head in Co Waterford, and off Cahore Point in Co Wexford.

The works allowed under such licences include site investigations to determine the best design for a wind farm, cabling and associated structures.

Last October, the Minister decided to implement a priority order in respect of the processing of applications for foreshore licences.

The intent was to ensure priority is given to processing applications that are most in line with national policy.

Priority was given to relevant projects, interconnectors, national test site, or other strategic infrastructure.

In its action, Energia claims the Minister’s decision means that the two electricity generating projects it and other entities hope to develop and connect to the national grid by 2030 may be delayed or may not proceed.

Projects off the east coast and in the Celtic Sea were given a lower priority level, it says.

‘Flawed’

It claims the Minister’s decision to make a priority order is flawed and the Minister is not entitled, under the relevant law, to establish a priority order for the processing of foreshore licences.

It also claims no reasons were given for the decision to adopt the priority order.

Energia says its license applications were lodged 20 months ago, it is entitled to have those decided within a reasonable time frame and the priority order has caused unreasonable delays for processing its applications.

In the proceedings against the Minister for Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, and the Minister of Stare for Local Government and Planning, the applicants want the court to quash the priority decision order in respect of applications for foreshore licences and to make orders compelling the Ministers to determine their applications.

They also seek a declaration that the decision to establish a priority order in was unreasonable, irrational, and breached fair procedures.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan this week granted the ex parte application for leave to bring the judicial review proceedings and adjourned the matter to March.