Judge to rule later on Thomas Reid challenge to Intel expansion

An Bord Pleanála has rejected all grounds of the objection to its permission for the project

Thomas Reid of Blakestown, Co Kildare.

Thomas Reid of Blakestown, Co Kildare.

 

The High Court will rule on a later date on a challenge by a local man aimed at overturning permission for a €3.76 billion expansion of Intel Ireland’s plant in Co Kildare.

An Bord Pleanála has rejected all grounds of the challenge by Thomas Reid to its permission for the project, which will expand Intel’s 160 acre campus at Leixlip by 30 acres following a construction phase expected to last four years.

Mr Reid won a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2015 preventing the use of compulsory purchase orders for his 29-hectare Hedsor House farm, located some 500 metres to the west of the site of the proposed development.

Review

His judicial review challenge against the board over its November, 2019 permission ran for three days this week before Mr Justice Richard Humphreys. Intel is a notice party.

A considerable amount of the hearing was taken up with submissions concerning the precise scope of the challenge.

That arose following a pre-trial ruling by the judge last month, on the application of Intel, excluding certain evidence which Mr Reid sought to advance, including new scientific evidence.

When the hearing concluded on Thursday, the judge reserved judgment.

In submissions for the board, Rory Mulcahy SC rejected claims the board’s decision was made in breach of requirements of a number of European Directives, including the Environmental Impact and Habitats Directives.

He argued the board, contrary to what Mr Reid claimed, had considered the ‘whole project’, including land use requirements for rock and other materials to be extracted/crushed during the construction phase

The board had also properly dealt with European law requirements concerning air emissions in the event of a major accident, he said.

The board considered there was no risk of a major accident and it had met the obligation to consult with the Health and Safety Authority.

The authority had not advised against the granting of permission and the Board had no obligation to consult further with it, he said.

Brian Kennedy SC, for Intel, argued no grounds had been made out for the court to quash the permission. There was no error concerning how issues concerning the protection of bryophytes – moss like plants — was addressed by the Board, he submitted.

Doubt

In reply, James Devlin SC, for Mr Reid, said it is up to the board to ascertain what is the best scientific knowledge on the issues raised but the board had failed to do so. It was not good enough for the board to say there was nothing on the file which left open scientific doubt, he said.

The board is “very keen to don the mantle of expertise in many respects” but not so keen to do so when it comes to verifying material before it, he said.

It was incorrect for the board to argue his side had not provided sufficient material to support the claims the board failed to adequately address issues concerning the potential impact on bryophytes, he also argued.