The planning board can appeal a High Court decision to overturn planning permission for 24 wind turbines which would be Ireland’s tallest structures.
Justice Richard Humphreys has allowed An Bord Pleánala to appeal his decision to the Court of Appeal after he quashed permission granted to a subsidiary of Bord na Móna – the semi-state company that formerly extracted peat from Ireland’s boglands.
The application relates to a 24-turbine wind farm which, if constructed to its maximum dimensions, would be the joint tallest structures in Ireland, with a tip height of 185m.
Earlier this year Mr Justice Humphreys upheld a challenge brought by environmentalist Peter Sweetman against the proposal to build the wind farm at Mountdillon Peat Production Bog, near Lanesborough, in Co Longford.
The judge quashed the permission on grounds including that the application to build the wind farm did not contain the level of detail required to allow the planning authority grant permission.
Mr Sweetman’s action is against the board, Ireland and the Attorney General. The developer, Bord na Móna Powergen Limited, is a notice party.
Arising out of the judgment, the board and the developer sought permission from the judge to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal.
In a ruling today, the judge said he was prepared to allow an appeal of his decision on the basis that “the practical operation of the planning system would be enhanced by the calcification of certain issues, albeit not those formulated by the board”.
The judge said that the board, in seeking leave to appeal the decision, had stated that the judgment has extremely wide-ranging implications. That concern, he said, was “overblown”.
“I do not think that the implications of the judgment are as theatrical as suggested,” he said.
Likewise claims by the developer in its application to have the matter referred to the Court of Appeal “slightly overcooks” the implications of the decision, he added.
The judge added that before the order granting leave to appeal is perfected he was also giving Mr Sweetman an opportunity to consider if he wishes to cross appeal any aspect of his decision.
Permission to construct the wind farm was granted in June 2020. As the proposed wind farm was deemed to be strategic infrastructure the developer made the application directly to An Bord Pleanála.
In his action, Mr Sweetman claimed the board had erred in law in accepting an application without an appropriate level of detail in respect of design contrary to EU law and domestic Planning & Development Regulations 2001.
The board and the developer both opposed Mr Sweetman’s application.
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