independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Woman fails to stop construction of windfarm near home

A DONEGAL WOMAN has failed to stop construction of a windfarm even though she won a court ruling that planning permission for it near her property was void insofar as it affects her land.

However, the High Court rejected Margaret McCallig’s claims that the planning permission was made on the basis of insufficient information, including the effect on wildlife and the potential for depopulation of what is a Gaeltacht area.



She claimed Bord Pleanala's decision to grant permission to PJ Molloy for 29 wind turbines near Glenties, Co Donegal, was incorrect because the site included lands belonging to her. Although the permission required the omission of four turbines nearest her property, she said construction works on the rest of the project will still impinge on her land.



She also claimed not enough information was considered when permission was being granted as to the effect of the development in a number of respects, such as the impact on flora and fauna and the flight path of wild birds. Among those birds, the court heard, are rare Golden Eagles which are being reintroduced into Glenveagh National Park in Donegal.



Bord Pleanala and Mr Molloy, as a notice party, disputed her claims.



She argued the permission breached of EU Council directives in relation the amount of information sought for environmental impact statement (EIS) concerning conservation of habitats and wildlife in the area.



She also claimed there was a failure to consider the impact of a wind farm on what is a Gaeltacht area and the likelihood that people would be deterred from living there when it was built, leading to depopulation.



Mr Justice Daniel Herbert granted her a declaration today that the Bord Pleanala decision, insofar as it affects her property, is void.



However, he declined to quash the entire decision and also said it was very difficult to see how the cultural heritage of the area could be affected by a windfarm or that the board did not have sufficient information in relation to this when making its decision.



The judge was satisfied it was reasonably and rationally open to the board to conclude the information in the EIS, along with supplementary information, was an adequate and proper compliance with planning and development regulations.



While there was an alleged lack of reference to Golden Eagles in the EIS, he was satisfied that the sole purpose of a condition in the permission - that a management plan for the habitats be prepared by the developer - was done to ensure appropriate management of habitats within the site. That management plan has to have the approval of the National Parks and Wildlife Service which reintroduced the eagles to Glenveagh, he noted.

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