May 1, 2015

High Court dismisses challenge to Co Laois wind farm

Aodhan O'Faolain | The Irish Times | May 1, 2015 |

A legal challenge to An Bord Pleanála’s decision granting permission for a windfarm in the midlands has been rejected by the Commercial Court.

In the proceedings, People Over Wind sought to quash the board’s decision, made last June, granting permission to Coillte Teoranta for construction of 18 power generating wind turbines near Cullenagh, close to the villages of Timahoe and Ballyroan, Co Laois.

In a lengthy detailed judgment, Mr Justice Robert Haughton dismissed all grounds of the challenge.

The group, which describes itself as an environmental non-governmental

organisation, argued the permisison should be quashed on grounds including that the board failed to carry a proper environmental impact assessment concerning the proposed development as required under national and European law.

It also alleged the board failed to give any proper reasons for its decision to allow the development proceed.

The group also argued the board failed to have regard for Laois County Council’s decision refusing permission for the windfarm and a recommendation by the board’s own inspector that permission be refused. The board rejected the group’s claims.

Coillte Teoranta, the Department ofArts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Laois County Council were all notice parties to the proceedings.

In his decision, Mr Justice Haughton said he was satisfied the board carried out “a proper appropriate assessment” of the proposed development which “engaged with all the observations and included sufficient findings, examination and analysis.”

The board’s determination on the appropriate assessment was “properly set out in its decision,” he added.

The judge also rejected arguments the board failed to carry out “an appropriate assessment in the light of the best scientific knowledge available” or that the development materially contravened the Co Laois development plan.

The case was adjourned to later this month to allow the parties consider the judgment.

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