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‘High Court will protect us from wind farm invasion’

Campaigners against wind farms have said they believe the High Court will protect them from an ‘invasion’ of turbines.

The Meath Wind Information Group said it was ‘disgusted but not surprised’ that North Meath Wind Farm Ltd has launched a High Court challenge, after it was refused permission for a large plant near Kells.

The wind farm company claimed An Bord Pleanála had overestimated the impact 25 turbines would have on landmarks such as the Hill of Tara. It argued that An Bord Pleanála had made mistakes in arriving at its decision to deny planning permission.

It won permission from the court last week to seek to compel the board to reconsider its decision.

Pádraic Dolan, of the Meath Wind Information Group, said his organisation was confident that any challenge would be unsuccessful. He told the Irish Daily Mail that the planning board had been unequivocal in its refusal, citing the proximity of the wind farm to a large number of homes, and the landscape’s cultural significance. ‘The board noted that current guidelines are unfit to be applied to wind turbines that will be over 600 feet tall,’ he added.

Mr Dolan concluded: ‘We are hopeful that the purpose of the High Court is to protect communities from just such invasions.’

Counsel for North Meath Wind Farm Ltd, Jarlath Fitzsimons SC, argued in court last week that the board had erred in finding that the local landscape ‘overwhelmingly’ consisted of farmland. And he said the board had concluded that the wind farm ‘would have a much greater impact on a number of cultural and heritage sites than it will actually have’.

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

He added that a previous application by North Meath Wind Farm Ltd for a 46-turbine farm had been refused by An Bord Pleanála, and that no challenge had been brought over that. Instead, a fresh application for 25 turbines was made.

Ms Justice 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, when the planning board will give its response.