Bid to quash right to challenge Ringsend sewage plan dismissed

Supreme Court dismisses bid to overturn decision on right to challenge €270m plant extension

The Supreme Court has dismissed a bid to overturn a decision giving a residents’ group the right to legally challenge a¤270 million extension to the Ringsend sewage treatment plant in Dublin.
 Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters

The Supreme Court has dismissed a bid to overturn a decision giving a residents’ group the right to legally challenge a¤270 million extension to the Ringsend sewage treatment plant in Dublin. Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters

 

The Supreme Court has dismissed a bid to overturn a decision giving a residents’ group the right to legally challenge a€270 million extension to the Ringsend sewage treatment plant in Dublin.

The State and Dublin City Council had appealed against a High Court ruling in favour of the Sandymount and Merrion Residents Association (Samra) allowing the association to bring a challenge against a Bord Pleanála decision giving the council the go ahead to extend the plant.

It was claimed the residents, as an unincorporated body, did not have the legal standing to bring such a challenge.

A five-judge Supreme Court heard the appeal on Tuesday, and today it delivered its judgment dismissing it. Chief Justice Susan Denham said the court would give its reasons at a later date.

Samra is objecting to the planned extension because of concerns over the environmental impact of the project, which will include a 9km tunnel under the sea to discharge treated effluent into Dublin Bay.

An Bord Pleanála granted permission last year for the extension just weeks before the Minister for Arts and Heritage proposed on December 3rd to designate a 40km coastal stretch from Rockabil, Howth, to Dalkey Island as a special area of conservation (SAC).

The residents say the undersea pipe will discharge treated effluent into an area directly within, or adjacent to, the SAC. They say an Environmental Impact Statement prepared for the development was inadequate.

Their case is against An Bord Pleanála, the Minister for Arts and Heritage and the State with the city council a notice party.

The council says the Ringsend plant is operating above designated capacity, while the State has told the European Commission it intends to fully comply with the Urban Water Treatment Works Directive. Failure to do so means the State will be liable to fines by the EU.

The council also says the plant was built in 2003 to cater for a population of 1.64 million in the greater Dublin region, but is now trying to cope with average daily influent from a population 1.8 million. The planned extension will provide capacity for 2.1 million.

Earlier this year, the High Court’s Mr Justice Peter Charleton ruled that ministerial regulations prohibiting unincorporated associations from seeking to appeal planning decisions did not exist.