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High Court challenge to wind farm approvals

An Bord Pleanála failed to specify why it approved permission for wind farm developments within 10km of special areas of protection and conservation in Co Roscommon, when two of its own inspectors recommended permission be refused, a local resident has complained to the High Court.

The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht had, along with some local residents, expressed concern about the developments on environmental grounds during earlier appeals to the board against Roscommon County Council’s granting of permission for them, Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan heard.

The judge yesterday began hearing a challenge to the decisions by the authority granting permission to Galetech Energy Developments Ltd for two developments – one of 16 wind turbines at Croan, Gortaphuill, Mullaghardagh, Dysart and the second of 19 turbines at nearby Milltown, Skeavally, Twanagh, Tobermacloghlin, Co Roscommon.

The judicial review challenge is by Eamon (Ted) Kelly, Carrowkeel, Dysart, a farmer and member of the Wind Turbine Action Group South Roscommon.

Mr Kelly claims the developments are in fact two phases of the same development and the board wrongly engaged in a form of “project-splitting”, in that two separate planning applications were made and two environmental impact assessments carried out contrary to the European impact assessment directive mandating a single, holistic assessment of a development.

It is claimed the development at Croan is likely to affect 10 conservation sites in south Roscommon, including Natura 2000 sites at Lough Croan, Four Road Turlough and the river Suck callows.

An inspector with An Bord Pleanála had recommended permission be refused due to the development’s proximity to several listed sites and the absence of information in an environmental impact statement on the impact on birds.

The case continues.