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Supreme Court to hear appeal over Tipperary wind farm

Challengers say case raises issues of environmental and general public importance

Edel Grace: she and Peter Sweetman applied to the Supreme Court to hear their appeal against a wind farm at Keeper Hill in the Silvermines mountains, arguing that the case raised issues of general public importance.

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider a challenge to An Bord Pleanála’s granting of planning permission for a wind farm in Co Tipperary after ruling that the case raises issues of public importance.

The High Court last year dismissed the challenge by Edel Grace, Milestone, Thurles, Co Tipperary, and environmental consultant Peter Sweetman, Bunahowen, Cashel, Co Galway, aimed at setting aside permission for construction of the wind farm development at Keeper Hill in the Silvermines mountains. Mr Justice Raymond Fullam also refused to permit the matter to be appealed to the Court of Appeal or to refer issues for determination by the EU Court of Justice.

Ms Grace and Mr Sweetman then applied to the Supreme Court to hear their appeal, arguing that the case raised issues of general public importance.

A three-judge Supreme Court, comprising Mr Justice Frank Clark, Mr Justice John MacMenamin and Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, this week granted permission to bring an appeal on a number of points of law, including whether certain Irish laws concerning environmental matters are required to be revised following recent judgments of the Court of Justice. The board had opposed the application to refer the matter to the Supreme Court.

In their proceedings, the applicants had sought to quash the board’s granting of a 10-year permission to ESB Wind Development and Coillte to build the wind farm. They claim the permission breaches the EU habitats directive and the EU environment impact assessment directive.

It is alleged that some 400 acres of hen harrier foraging would be lost if the proposed development went ahead and the existing habitat of the hen harrier would be permanently and irrevocably destroyed.

A proper environmental impact assessment was not been carried out and the proposed development would significantly detract from the “protected view” of Keeper Hill, it is also alleged.

The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and an inspector on behalf of An Bord Pleanála had both recommended permissions should not be granted for the wind farm development. The proceedings were brought against the board with ESB Wind Development Ltd, Coillte, and the Department as notice parties.

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