ESB facing €3.5m compensation claim from landowners

Some €1.9m has already been paid in up-front payments to owners affected by Kinnegad to Mullingar line, court hears

ESB landowner engagement manager, Colm Smyth, said in an affidavit, the cost of this compensation “directly impacts on the cost of electricity”

ESB landowner engagement manager, Colm Smyth, said in an affidavit, the cost of this compensation “directly impacts on the cost of electricity”

 

The ESB is facing compensation claims for some €3.5m from property owners whose land is needed for the running of power cables for the national electricity infrastructure.

Some €1.9m has already been paid in up-front payments to landowners affected by the 24km Kinnegad to Mullingar line, it says.

One landowner along that line, who has already accepted a €66,000 payment for “flexibility of access” to his property has put in a claim for nearly ten times that amount, the ESB says.

It wants the Commercial Court to rule on whether the €66,000 payment can be taken into account by an arbitrator who has been appointed to decide Kenneth Payne’s €640,500 claim for access to his land in Co Meath.

ESB landowner engagement manager, Colm Smyth, said in an affidavit, the cost of this compensation “directly impacts on the cost of electricity”.

He says the ESB is experiencing “a substantial growth” in such claims and for requests for arbitration.

Some €3.5m in claims have already been received.

In the Payne case, the ESB asked arbitrator Desmond Boyle, who was appointed to deal with the claim, to state a case to the High Court on whether the €66,000 should be taken into account in assessing compensations.

Mr Boyle decided it was inappropriate for him to do so .

The ESB then brought its own case to the High Court seeking the matter be ruled on so as to bring clarity to the situation.

On Monday, Mr Justice Robert Haughton admitted the case to the fast track Commercial Court.

He said it was effectively a test case on an important, but discrete, point.

The judge was told the arbitrator, Mr Boyle, was not taking part in the proceedings as his position was akin to that of a District Judge who would also not be party to to such cases.

Mr Justice Haughton said he would welcome the arbitrator reconsidering his position.

Otherwise, there would be no proper opponent (legitimus contradictor) to the case, he said.

He adjourned the matter to next June.