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High Court challenge launched after wind farm is refused planning

A High Court challenge has been launched against An Bord Pleanala’s refusal to grant permission for a controversial proposed 25 turbine wind farm in Co Meath.

North Meath Wind Farm Ltd had sought permission to develop an electricity generating wind farm at Castletownmoor, Co Meath.

The project, which had attracted strong local opposition, consists of 25 turbines with a top height of up to 169m, as well as other associated works.

North Meath Wind Farm claimed in the High Court this week (Monday) that the Board erred in law when it refused to grant the project planning permission.

They argue that the Board “erred fundamentally” when it assessed the visual impact the proposed wind farm would have on nearby heritage sites, including the Hill of Tara.

Represented by Jarlath Fitzsimons SC and Niall Handy Bl, the applicants claim that the Board considered irrelevant matters when conducting the assessment.

As a result of the decision the Cork registered North Meath Wind Farm Ltd and its majority shareholder, Element Power Ireland Ltd, have brought High Court judicial review proceedings against the Board.

They seek orders including one quashing the Board’s decision of July 3 last refusing to grant planning permission for the proposed wind farm.

They also seek declarations including that the board erred in and misdirected itself in law, took into account irrelevant matters and acted irrationally when it made the decision to refuse permission.

Mr Fitzsimons said his clients want the court to remit the application back to An Bord Pleanala for a fresh consideration. He said that as well as erring in relation to cultural and heritage matters the Board also erred in respect of landscape and visual assessment issues.

Counsel said that the Board had not properly interpreted the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines when arriving at its decision not to grant planning permission, allegedly amounting to a breach of fair procedures by the Board.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted on an ex parte basis, where only side was present in court, by Ms Justice Mary Faherty. The judge made the matter returnable to a date in October.