The Supreme Court will consider a challenge against An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission for an electricity-generating wind farm in Co Tipperary after ruling that the case raises issues of public importance.
Last year, the High Court dismissed Edel Grace of Grousehall Milestone, Thurles, Co Tipperary and environmental consultant Mr Peter Sweetman of Bunnahowen, Cashel, Co Galway action aimed at setting aside the planning authority’s decision to allow the construction of a wind farm development at Keeper Hill in the Silvermines Mountains in Co Tipperary.
Mr Justice Raymond Fullam rejected the applicants’ claims and dismissed the action. The court also refused an application to refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union for consideration, or have an appeal against the judgment heard by the Court of Appeal.
The applicants then asked the Supreme Court to hear their appeal arguing the case on grounds including that the case raised issues of general public importance.
In a ruling, a three-judge Supreme Court – comprised of Mr Justice Frank Clarke, Mr Justice John MacMenamin and Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne – granted permission to bring the appeal against the High Court decision on a number of points including if laws concerning environmental matters require revision in light of recent judgments of the European Court of Justice.
The planning board had opposed the application to have the appeal referred to the Supreme Court.
The proposed development comprises of 16 turbines, access tracks, an electrical transformer station, control buildings and a substation.
In proceedings against An Bord Pleanála, they sought orders including one quashing the board’s decision to grant a ten-year permission to ESB Wind Development and Coillte to build the wind farm.
The applicants claim An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission breaches 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 has not been carried out and the proposed development would significantly detract from the “protected view” of Keeper Hill.
The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and an inspector on behalf of An Bord Pleanála had both recommended that permissions should not be granted. The action was opposed by the planning board.
ESB Wind Development Ltd, Coillte, the State’s commercial forestry and renewable energy arm, and the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht were notice parties.
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