The High Court has cleared the way for the development of a wind farm in Co Tipperary after rejecting challenges brought on grounds including an adverse impact on the habitat of the hen harrier.
Mr Justice Raymond Fullan refused to refer An Bord Pleanála’s decision permitting the development of the wind farm to the European Court of Justice. He also refused to certify that the case raised points of law of such exceptional importance it was in the public interest they be determined by the Court of Appeal. His decisions mean the development at Upperchurch can proceed.
Edel Grace, Grouse Hall, Milestone, Thurles, along with environmental consultant Peter Sweetman, Bunahowen, Cashel, Co Galway, brought proceedings over the planning appeal board’s decision to allow the wind farm development at Keeper Hill in the Silvermines Mountains. The proposed development comprises 16 turbines, access tracks, an electrical transformer station, control buildings and a substation.
Ms Grace and Mr Sweetman sought orders quashing the grant of a 10-year permission to ESB Wind Development and Coillte to build the wind farm. The applicants claimed the permission breached the EU habitats directive and the EU environment impact assessment directive.
They claimed almost 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 was argued. The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and an inspector on behalf of An Bord Pleanála had both recommended permissions be refused.
The action was against the planning board while ESB Wind Development Ltd, Coillte and the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht were notice parties.
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