Injunction granted to stop man electrocuting himself by digging up cables

Windfarm operator takes case restraining local landowner from carrying out threat

The action has been brought by Dromada Windfarm (ROI) Limited, part of the SSE Group of companies, and operator of a 19-turbine windfarm at Clash South, Athea, Co Limerick, against Denis Cremins from Meenganaire, Knocknagoshel, Co Kerry.  File Photograph: David Sleator

The action has been brought by Dromada Windfarm (ROI) Limited, part of the SSE Group of companies, and operator of a 19-turbine windfarm at Clash South, Athea, Co Limerick, against Denis Cremins from Meenganaire, Knocknagoshel, Co Kerry. File Photograph: David Sleator

 

The operator of a Co Limerick-based windfarm has secured a temporary High Court order preventing a local landowner from digging up high voltage cables.

Anyone interfering with the cables, which connect the windfarm to the national grid, could suffer serious or fatal injuries, the court heard.

The action has been brought by Dromada Windfarm (ROI) Limited, part of the SSE Group of companies, and operator of a 19-turbine windfarm at Clash South, Athea, Co Limerick, against Denis Cremins from Meenganaire, Knocknagoshel, Co Kerry.

The cables were laid over a decade ago on the verge of a public road next to lands owned by Mr Cremins at Keale, Athea.

The court heard there was a long history to the matter and many engagements between the sides.

However, the company said Mr Cremins had set a deadline of May 5th, 2021 before he would dig up the cables.

Dromada is very concerned he will follow through with his threat to dig up the grass verge where the cables are laid. Such an action will put him and others at risk of injury or death, the company claims.

Seeking the orders, Damien Keaney BL, for Dromada, said it held discussions many years ago with Mr Cremins about leasing his property so it could add three more wind turbines to the windfarm.

It was also hoped Dromada could run cables across Mr Cremin’s property but no agreement was reached, he said.

In 2017, Mr Cremin initiated legal proceedings against Dromada over the entitlement to interfere with the landowner’s property, which have not been progressed.

Counsel said there had been considerable recent correspondence and engagement since 2019, after Mr Cremin threatened to dig up the cables. He has also sought to have the cables deenergised.

‘Outrageous’

Late last year, counsel said Mr Cremin exposed some of the Dromada’s cable ducting and safety marker tapes on the grass verge of the public road.

Counsel said at meetings this year, Mr Cremins demanded “outrageous” payments of €7m and €4.5m from the defendant.

In the most recent correspondence, counsel said Mr Cremin had set a deadline of May 5th to dig up the cable.

Aside from the serious health and safety issues, that would also result in Dromada sustaining losses of €5,000 per day.

Counsel said an undertaking was sought from Mr Cremin not to interfere with the cable, but none was offered. The company was sent an email from a member of Mr Cremin’s family saying he was not prepared to back down.

Counsel said his side was willing to engage with and discuss all matters with Mr Cremin, and take into account relevant court decisions made subsequent to construction of the windfarm but no agreement has been reached.

Mr Justice Senan Allen, on an ex-parte basis, granted Dromada a temporary injunction against Mr Cremins.

The order restrains him interfering with or accessing the plaintiff’s machinery, electrical plant, including the high voltage cables connected to the windfarm which were laid on the public road near his property.

The judge said he was satisfied from the evidence, particularly the concerns raised about Mr Cremin’s health and safety and possible damage to the applicant’s equipment,to make the orders sought.

He made the matter returnable to later this month, with liberty to both sides apply to bring the matter back before the court on 24 hours’ notice.