Environmentalist challenges construction of grid connection to wind farm
Peter Sweetman argues work should have been subject to environmental impact assessment
Environmental campaigner Peter Sweetman. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
A legal challenge by environmentalist Peter Sweetman over construction of the national grid connection to a wind farm in Co Wicklow is to be fast tracked in the Commercial Court.
Mr Sweetman is seeking an order quashing a decision of An Bord Pleanala in December 2018 that the construction of the connections servicing a windfarm development located at Ballycumber, Tinahealy, Co Wicklow was exempted development.
The central issue concerns his the claim that the works undertaken for the purpose of connecting the Ballycumber Wind Farm to the national electricity grid should have been subject to an environmental impact assessment and could not be subject of a declaration of exempt development.
On Monday, Mr Justice Robert Haughton agreed to fast-track the case in the Commercial Court and fixed a hearing date in December.
In seeking to have the case fast-tracked, Paul McConvey, a director of Ballycumber Wind Farm Ltd, a notice party to the proceedings, said more that €40 million has been expended on all aspects of the development of the windfarm project to date.
He said KBM Wind Farm Ltd was granted planning permission in 2013 for construction of the Ballycumber Wind Farm comprising six turbines.
Ballycumber Wind Farm subsequently acquired from KBM Wind Farm Ltd certain assets necessary for the construction of Ballycumber Wind Farm, he said.
In 2015, Wicklow County Council granted a declaration that construction of the underground electrical connection between the wind farm and the ESB sub station was exempted development.
Construction works on the grid connection were completed by the end of December last.
Mr McConvey said the approximate capital cost of the wind farm project is more than €40 million to date and includes the costs of construction, equipment and connection works.
The 2015 declaration was previously the subject of a High Court challenge which was settled.
The connection between Ballycumber Wind Farm and the national grid happened at the end of March last.
It is claimed, while the wind farm is operational and exporting electricity to the national grid, any delay in the hearing and determination of the proceedings which may have consequences for the status of the works undertaken in relation to the grid connection would have very serious financial consequences for Ballycumber Wind Farm Ltd.