Man cannot challenge rejection of College Green plaza

High Court rules that environmental campaigner does not have the necessary standing

Mr Justice David Barniville said John Conway does not have the necessary standing to seek judicial review.

Mr Justice David Barniville said John Conway does not have the necessary standing to seek judicial review.

 

An environmental campaigner has no legal entitlement to challenge a refusal for the College Green Civic Plaza plan in Dublin, the High Court has ruled.

Mr Justice David Barniville said John Conway does not have the necessary standing to seek judicial review of An Bord Pleanála’s October 2018 refusal of permission to Dublin City Council for the plaza.

The main reason for the board’s refusal was the uncertainty of the council’s proposals for dealing with the banning of buses from College Green so it can be turned into a pedestrian/cyclist/Luas-only area.

The board, to which the council’s plan was referred for a ruling, said there was a failure to demonstrate the capacity of the quays to take not just the re-routed buses, but the additional pedestrian traffic which would have to use the quays.

The plan was contrary to proper planning and sustainable development, the board said.

Mr Conway, who is from Dundalk and part of the Louth Environmental Group, wanted the court to quash the board’s decision and have it sent back to it for reconsideration. The council was a notice party.

Mr Conway argued, among other things, there was a divergence of opinion in relation to traffic matters between the board inspector and another in-house inspector appointed by the board to assist in considering transportation/traffic issues.

He said this divergence of opinion “highlights the subjective nature” of the traffic assessment which was the main reason for refusal.

He also claimed the refusal decision was unlawful because the traffic assessment failed to take account of significant changes proposed by the National Transport Authority (NTA) to the Dublin Bus network, known as “BusConnects”.

Mr Justice Barniville, who deals with strategic infrastructure developments, said there was a preliminary issue as to whether Mr Conway had standing to bring the proceedings.

The judge concluded Mr Conway does not have standing under Irish law which meets EU law requirements of “wide access to justice”.

He also concluded Mr Conway had no standing under the EU directive itself in relation to access to justice.

Nothing in the directive or in the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the EU led him to conclude the Irish national rules on standing should be disapplied or interpreted differently so as to require standing to be afforded to Mr Conway to challenge the board’s decision, he said.