A High Court judge has said it is just and fair to remit a case relating to the planning permission for a cluster of giant wind turbines outside Macroom, Co Cork back to An Bord Pleanala.
An Bord Pleanala will now have to decide again on the development of six wind turbines up to 131m in height at Barnadivane, Terelton.
In the latest development in the six year long planning saga, Barna Wind Action Group went to the High Court to legally challenge whether the windfarm case should be remitted back to An Bord Pleanala after the planning board agreed to an order quashing its grant of permission in April last year.
Permission had been granted to Barna Wind Energy Ltd for the construction of the windfarm. Permission was also given to Arran Windfarm Ltd for the construction of an associated electricity substation compound. Both companies and Cork County Council were notice parties to the judicial review proceedings before the High Court.
Mr Justice McDonald in a decision this month ruled it was fair and just to remit the case back to An Bord Pleanala and also recommended that An Bord Pleanala should seek further material to address changes in the environment in the intervening period since the Environment Impact Study was prepared. The judge said he will leave it up to the Board to decide for itself how it should proceed.
Barna Wind Action Group had opposed the remitting of the case back to the Board. It contended that having regard to the changes to the EU Directive in relation to environment impact assessments it would be inappropriate to remit the matter back to the Board. The developer supported remitting the case back for consideration by An Bord Pleanala.
Planning applications for the windfarm and sub station were initially lodged in 2014 and permission was granted by Cork County Council the following year. The matter was appealed to An Bord Pleanala who upheld the planning permission grant in 2016. This was the subject of a legal challenge and in November 2016 the Board consented to an order quashing both of its decisions on fair procedures grounds.
The matter was remitted back to An Bord Pleanala and an inspector completed a report on the applications in 2018 and recommended that planning permission be granted.
An Bord Pleanala in April 2019 granted permission for the developments.
Mr Justice McDonald said in addition to an order quashing the two decisions of An Bord Pleanala of April 2019, he would also make an order that the subject matter of both decisions be remitted to the Board to be determined in accordance with law. The judge also awarded costs of the judicial review proceedings to Barna Wind Action Group.
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