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High Court judge refuses appeal to his decision over wind farm site

Cork residents’ concerns included the environmental impact of the development

The High Court had in 2014 quashed an earlier permission by Am Bord Pleanála to Framore for the development

A High Court judge has refused to allow a number of local residents appeal his decision rejecting their challenge to permission for a wind farm development in Co Cork.

The residents’ concerns included the environmental impact of the development and noise from the turbines.

They had disputed An Bord Pleanála’s June 2016 permission for a six-turbine wind farm, substation, underground cables and associated development in the town lands of Derragh, Rathgaskig and Lack Beg at Ballingeary.

The High Court had in 2014 quashed an earlier permission by the board to Framore Ltd for the development after finding an environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the proposed development had to be considered as part of an overall assessment of how the turbines will be connected to the national power grid.

Rejecting arguments by the board and Framore the turbines and grid connection were separate projects, the court said an EIA of the 100m turbines could not be considered separately from the grid connection which could involve overhead or underground power lines.

Framore had argued it could not include the grid connection in the EIA for the turbines because proposals had not yet been formulated by ESB Networks for design of such a connection.

Following that High Court decision, Framore revised its planning application to relocate one turbine some 50m away from its original proposed location so as to ensure all turbines were a minimum 500m away from all residences. The application was also revised to provide for underground cabling between the site substation and the national electricity grid substation near Kilgarvan, Co Kerry. After the board granted permission in 2016 for the revised application, the families challenged that second decision.

Dismissed

In a reserved judgment last January, Mr Justice Brian McGovern dismissed their case. He found the board did what the previous High Court decision required it to do and he also dismissed arguments the EIA carried out by the board was inadequate.

The residents sought to appeal that decision to the Court of Appeal but, in a judgment on Monday, the judge refused the necessary certificate to allow them appeal.

He found they had failed to show his January 2017 judgment had raised a point of law of exceptional public importance entitling them to an appeal and also held an appeal was not necessary in the public interest.

The judge said he disagreed that there was some uncertainty arising from his finding an adequate EIA had been carried out after the matter was remitted to the board. The fact the applicants disagreed with his finding on the EIA did not mean there was any uncertainty on that issue, he said.

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