A challenge by a Kingscourt farmer against An Bord Pleanála’s ruling that a high-voltage underground cable connecting a €21 million wind farm to the national grid does not need planning is to be fast-tracked before the Commercial Court.
Val Martin from Gortnakesh, who owns lands close to the under-construction windfarm at Raragh, Kingscourt, is challenging a decision by the planning authority, which deemed a 20-kilovolt cable connecting the development and an ESB substation at Kilaulun, Co Meath as “exempted”.
“The Board decided in April this year that the laying of 220m of 20kV underground cable forming part of the grid connection between the planned wind farm in the townlands of Raragh, Kingscourt, County Cavan and the existing ESB substation at Kilnalun, County Meath is development and is exempted development,” the board said in its direction.
Last month Mr Justice Brian McGovern admitted the proceedings to the commercial list, listing the case to be heard over two days in October.
Raragh Developments Ltd (RDL), a notice party to the legal challenge, had applied to have the case entered in to the Commercial Court list.
Their case is based on the permission granted by the board as far back as November 2010 for the Windfarm of up to seven turbines, anemometry mast, electrical substation, access tracks, underground cabling and ancillary works at Raragh and Corrinshigo, Kingscourt.
In an affidavit to the court, project manager for the company, Eoin McPartland, said RDL entered into a grid connection agreement with ESB Networks and the windfarm must therefore be connected to the grid in order to start exporting electricity to the grid by December 31, 2017.
Any further delay in determining the proceedings would, Mr McPartland claimed, seriously jeopardise the ability of RDL to complete the windfarm and grid connection. He added it was not be commercially viable for RDL to complete the planned windfarm without certainty regarding the connection of the windfarm to the grid.
The capital cost of the entire project is estimated by the company to be in the region of €21m, which will include the cost of the construction of the windfarm, equipment and connection works.
Cost of the grid connection alone is about €3m, said Mr McPartland.
He finally claimed that RDL had incurred significant costs to date and the commercial activities of the company would be significantly impacted upon if the legal challenge taken by Mr Martin is not disposed of quickly.
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