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Court to fast-track challenge to Co Mayo wind farm

A challenge to a 61-turbine wind farm in Co Mayo is to be fast-tracked by the Commercial Court.

Castlebar resident Dermot McDonnell has brought the challenge over An Bord Pleanála’s approval of permission for the 172 megawatt wind farm being developed at Bellacorrick by Oweninny Power.

Mr McDonnell claims the environment impact statements (ElS) accompanying the application were inadequate and did not meet the requirements of national or EU law.

He says the board had no relevant scientific material before it to support its decision which meant the amount of money the developer would have to contribute in the form of “community gain” was lower than similar projects in the UK.

Community gain is where wind farm developers pay monies into a fund for stakeholder benefit.

County councillors in Mayo had recommended a €10,000 per megawatt contribution but the board considered the imposition of any community gain condition was not necessary.

Oweninny Power had proposed a €1,000 per megawatt contribution while a board inspector said it should be €2,500.

Mr McDonnell previously got permission from the High Court to bring his challenge and Oweninny Power, a notice party in the case, applied on Monday to have it fast-tracked by the Commercial Court.

Mr McDonnell, representing himself, did not object but asked for time to prepare his case.

Brian Murray SC, for Oweninny Power, said a timetable had been drawn up which reflected that Mr McDonnell was representing himself and should give him enough time.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern admitted the case to the commercial list and adjourned it for hearing in May next.