Judge dismisses challenge to planning procedures for Meath wind farm

Court hears proposed €240m Emlagh development is for 46 wind turbines on three clusters of land near Kells

The developer claims if permission is secured the wind farm will generate substantial electricity for up to 30 years, 225 construction jobs and 60 long-term jobs, and some €3.5 million for local projects over its lifetime

The developer claims if permission is secured the wind farm will generate substantial electricity for up to 30 years, 225 construction jobs and 60 long-term jobs, and some €3.5 million for local projects over its lifetime

 

An engineer has lost his High Court challenge over the planning procedure adopted for a proposed wind farm near his home at Kells, Co Meath.

Ms Justice Caroline Costello dismissed claims by John Callaghan that the planning procedure adopted by An Bord Pleanála was fundamentally unfair and meant there would be no public involvement in the process of carrying out an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

She rejected Mr Callaghan’s core argument that the board’s September 2014 designation of the proposed development as a strategic infrastructural development (SID), with the effect that the application for permission went directly to the board for determination, in any way predetermined the outcome, or any part of the outcome, of either the EIA or the application for planning permission.

She said the decision on whether the development was SID was a different decision from a decision whether or not to grant permission. The latter decision must be made on the basis it accords with proper planning and sustainable development in the area.

She ruled Mr Callaghan had not established the necessary substantial grounds for quashing the decision that the development of 46 wind turbines was SID.

She dismissed further claims Mr Callaghan was not accorded fair procedures or that the relevant EU Directive was not properly transposed into Irish law.

Michael Cush SC, for Mr Callaghan, said his side wanted a short time to consider whether to seek a certificate for leave to appeal and whether they would seek a stay in the matter. In those circumstances, the judge adjourned the matter to next week.

In his judicial review proceedings against the board, Mr Callaghan said he feared the proposed development would adversely impact on the environment and health and development of his young son who has pervasive developmental disorder.

He argued section 37A of the Planning and Development Act 2000, under which the board decided the proposed development has “strategic infrastructural status”, was inconsistent with EC Directives aimed at the public having a say in the vital issue of assessing environmental impact.

The court heard the proposed €240 million Emlagh development is for 46 wind turbines, each with a height of up to 169m, on three clusters of lands at Farragara, Castletownmoor and Ísealchríocha near Kells.

The developer claims if permission is secured the wind farm will generate substantial electricity for up to 30 years, 225 construction jobs and 60 long-term jobs, and some €3.5 million for local projects over its lifetime.

The board is expected to give a decision shortly on the planning application by North Meath Wind Farm Ltd (NMWF), whose majority shareholder is Element Power Ireland Ltd (EPIL).

Kevin O’Donovan, director of EPIL and NMWF, had told the court the proposed development must have permission in place by late 2015 to be completed in time to meet Ireland’s 2020 renewable energy targets.