Planning board gets leave to appeal court ruling overturning wind farm permission

Earlier this year the High Court upheld a challenge by Peter Sweetman over permission for Longford wind farm

The case relates to a proposed 24-turbine wind farm which, if constructed to its maximum dimensions, would be the joint tallest structures in Ireland. Photograph: iStock

The case relates to a proposed 24-turbine wind farm which, if constructed to its maximum dimensions, would be the joint tallest structures in Ireland. Photograph: iStock

 

An Bord Pleanála has secured leave to appeal a High Court decision overturning its planning permission for a wind farm in the midlands.

The case relates to a proposed 24-turbine wind farm which, if constructed to its maximum dimensions, would be the joint tallest structures in Ireland with a tip height of 185m.

Earlier this year Mr Justice Richard Humphreys upheld a challenge by environmentalist Peter Sweetman to the permission for the wind farm at Mountdillon Peat Production Bog near Lanesborough, Co Longford. The judge quashed the permission on grounds including that the planning application did not contain the level of detail required to allow the board grant permission.

Mr Sweetman’s action was against the board, Ireland and the Attorney General, with the developer of the proposed wind farm – Bord Na Mona Powergen Limited – a notice party.

Following the judgment the board and developer sought the necessary permission from the judge to appeal his decision to the Court of Appeal.

In a ruling on Tuesday the judge said he would allow an appeal on the basis that the practical operation of the planning system “would be enhanced by the clarification of certain issues, albeit not those formulated by the board”.

The board had stated the court’s judgment has extremely wide-ranging implications but that concern was “overblown”, he said.“I do not think that the implications of the judgement are as theatrical as suggested.”

The developer, in seeking an appeal, also “slightly overcooks” the judgment’s implications, he said.

Court of Appeal

Mr Justice Humphreys said he would allow an appeal to the Court of Appeal on certain issues but also considered there might be benefit from a “leapfrog” appeal, one direct to the Supreme Court, bypassing the Court of Appeal.

The legal points of exceptional public importance to be referred to the Court of Appeal relate to Irish domestic law, he said.

Before the order granting leave to appeal is perfected, Mr Sweetman may consider if he wishes to cross-appeal any aspect of the court’s decision, the judge added.

Permission to construct the wind farm was granted in June 2020 after the board deemed the proposed development one of strategic infrastructure.

Mr Sweetman claimed the board erred in law in accepting an application without an appropriate level of detail in respect of design, contrary to EU law and the relevant Irish regulations.

The plans and particulars lodged in respect of the turbines, one of the largest, if not the largest series of structures ever to be constructed here, were “completely inadequate”, and it was impossible to formulate any definitive findings in respect of the wind farm’s impact, it was claimed.

The board and developer denied the claims.