August 30, 2017

Wind farm firm in court fight over ‘confused’ planning ban

By Helen Bruce | Irish Daily Mail | 29 Aug 2017 |

A wind farm company has claimed An Bord Pleanála has overestimated the impact that 25 turbines will have on historic landmarks such as the Hill of Tara.

North Meath Wind Farm Ltd has launched a High Court challenge after it was refused permission for a 25-turbine wind farm outside Kells.

That refusal, announced in early July, had been met with delight by opponents of the Castletownmoor Wind Farm, who feared it would dominate the rural area.

But counsel for the company, Jarlath Fitzsimons, SC, argued that An Bord Pleanála had made a number of mistakes in arriving at its decision to deny planning permission.

And he said North Meath Wind Farm now sought to compel the board to reconsider its decision. In particular, he said the planning board’s inspector had ‘confused and conflated’ two separate considerations – those of the local landscape and the plant’s visual impact, and the assessment of local cultural and heritage issues.

He said the board had erred in finding that the local landscape ‘overwhelmingly’ consisted of farmland, and that it had not considered other aspects of the area’s development.

And he said the board had concluded the wind farm ‘would have a much greater impact on a number of cultural and heritage sites, including the Hill of Tara, than it will actually have’. He said there had been a ‘fundamental confusion and error’ in the board’s assessment of the wind farm’s visual impact on a number of historic churches around Kells, and Mountfortescue Hillfort.

He said the company had, in its application, given careful consideration to guidelines from the International Council on Monuments and Sites.

Judge Mary Faherty ruled that the company had made a strong enough case for her to grant leave for it to seek a judicial review of An Bord Pleanála’s decision.

The case will return to the High Court in a number of weeks.

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