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Court grants judicial review of wind farm plan

Wind farm developments may be blown off course by a likely High Court challenge.

A group of West Clare residents became the first local opposition group to secure leave for a judicial review to overturn planning approval for a wind farm.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Marie Bake has granted members of the Coore-Shanaway Residents Group leave to seek a judicial review, on 10 points of law, to Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission for four 85m-high wind turbines in the Miltown Malbay area of Co Clare.

According to court documents, the group will attempt to prove the board failed to carry out a proper environmental impact assessment, as well as an appropriate assessment as required under national and European law.

Objectors claimed that An Bord Pleanála failed to “properly record its determination and failed to give any proper reasons for its determination contrary to national and European law”.

Others points include:

– The board failed to give any or any proper reasons for not allowing the recommendation of the inspector who recommended refusal of permission;

– The board failed to properly notify the public concerned of the significant further information and revised environmental impact assessment in accordance with the law;

– The board failed to have regard for the decision to refuse permission for the development by Clare County Council – which had decided the development would contravene a large number of development objectives.

The outcome of the review could have major implications for wind farm developments nationwide.

The development by McMahon Finn Wind Acquisitions Limited in the town lands of Shanavogh East, Shanavogh West, and Coore, was refused permission by the county council three years ago.

However, in June, following an appeal, An Bord Pleanála granted permission with 22 conditions, including a reduction from six to four turbines.

The local objectors recently stated they were “appalled” by the board’s decision to overturn the council’s refusal.

It expressed concern about an “industrial development” in very close proximity to family homes which would affect their health, especially that of their children and older community members.

Efforts to obtain a comment from one of the developers were unsuccessful.

A spokesman for Board Pleanála said the board received the legal papers on Tuesday and has begun work on its response which is only at the initial stages.