Monday 26 September 2016

Paul Melia: Careful examination of infrastructure projects needed

Published 28/10/2015 | 02:30

Bord Na Mona Edenderry Power Station in Co Offaly
Bord Na Mona Edenderry Power Station in Co Offaly

The High Court decision relating to Edenderry is the second major judgment in a year which impacts on large-scale infrastructure projects.

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A view now appears to be taken that the overall impact of a development on the environment must be taken into account when permission is being sought, and not just concerns about the project at the centre of the planning application.

This is noted in two recent cases - the High Court decision yesterday whereby it was ruled that the environmental impact of extending the lifespan of a power station did not just centre on the station itself, but also the impact of harvesting peat to power that station, and the climate emissions that would arise.

A second judgment last year, called O'Grianna v An Bord Pleanála, also found that a proper assessment of a wind farm could not occur unless its connection to the national grid was taken into account.

A more holistic view of the impact these projects have on the environment now appears to be developing, which is welcomed. It is crucial that developers don't attempt to override local concerns, and that all issues raised are addressed. If it also means that planners need to be trained, or given more time to decide on applications, then so be it.

How developers and planners respond next is crucial. Given the long-term nature of these projects, it is only right that all possible impacts are assessed before permission is granted.

Irish Independent

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