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Wind turbines would destroy hen harrier habitat, court hears

A wind farm which is allegedly a threat to the habitat of the hen harrier on the slopes of Keeper Hill in Co Tipperary is facing a major legal challenge in the High Court.

Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon yesterday granted craft artist Edel Grace and environmentalist Peter Sweetman leave to apply for an order quashing An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant ESB Wind Development Ltd planning permission for the 16-turbine farm.

Barrister David Browne, counsel for the plaintiffs, told the judge the wind farm may result in the permanent loss of the bird of prey’s natural habitat in the Slieve Felim to Silvermines Mountains Special Protection Area between Limerick and Tipperary.

Ms Grace, of Grousehall, Milestone, Thurles, and Mr Sweetman, of Bunahowen, Cashel, Co Galway, claimed the farm would include 16 wind turbines, access tracks, an electrical transformer station, control buildings and a substation.

They told the court almost 400 acres of hen harrier foraging across the mountain range would be lost if the development went ahead.

Notice parties to the proceedings are ESB Wind Development Ltd, Coillte and the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht.

The plaintiffs claimed the planning permission was in breach of the European Union’s Habitats Directive, the EU Environment Impact Assessment Directive and legal authorities of European Court of Justice.