August 19, 2017

High Court action against wind farm protesters

Wicklow People | August 19 2017 |

The developer of a wind farm in south Wicklow has launched High Court proceedings against protesters its claims are interfering with works designed to connect the project to the national electricity grid.

The proceedings have been brought by Ballycumber Wind Farm Limited, which claims that the protesters are putting themselves in harm’s way of dangerous equipment, including excavation machinery, in order to prevent works from being carried out.

The works, which include the laying of cable, are being carried out to connect the six-turbine wind farm at Ballycumber, Tinahely, to an ESB sub-station at Kilmagig near Avoca.

The company said if the alleged interference is allowed to continue, the firm will suffer serious financial damage of up €3.1 million.

The firm has sought injunctions preventing the protesters from impeding, interfering or obstructing works being carried out to link the wind farm with the ESB sub-station.

The company is also seeking orders preventing the defendants from obstructing it from carrying out grid connection works being carried out on what the company says are public roads.

On Monday last, Stephen Dowling Bl for the company told the High Court the protesters are allegedly members of of a group known as the South Wicklow Wind Action Group. Counsel said that in the last week the contractor hired to carry out works were not able to do their job after people had stood in front of a JCB digger.

Counsel said that communications from the protesters suggested that the works were being carried out on private lands and amounted to a trespass. Counsel said this is disputed and the company is conducting works on public roads only. No works are being carried out on private lands, counsel added.

Mr Dowling said that the the grid connection works are vital to the €31m wind farm project.

The project has a timeline whereby the wind farm will be ready to supply electricity by December 2017. The protests, counsel said, are putting that timeline in jeopardy and that important completion deadlines for various stages of the process will be missed.

Permission to serve short notice of the injunction application on the protesters was granted, on an ex parte basis by Mr Justice Charles Meenan.

The judge made the matter returnable to later this week.

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