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Thursday 19 April 2018

High Court quashes planning refusal for proposed wind farm

Stock photo
Stock photo

Aodhan O'Faolain

A public meeting is to be called to consider a High Court ruling which "quashed in its entirety" a refusal by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for a wind farm.

The Kildare Environmental Awareness Campaign group (Keag) is opposing plans for the 47-turbine wind farm on the Kildare-Meath border.

In his judgment yesterday, Mr Justice Robert Haughton ruled that the application for the Maighne wind farm should be sent back to An Board Pleanála for reconsideration.

The judge said he was setting aside its refusal decision on grounds including that irrelevant considerations were taken into account by the planning authority when it turned down an application by Element Power Ireland Ltd.

In 2015, the company sought planning permission from the board to construct 45 turbines in north west Co Kildare and two in Co Meath, as well as a substation, underground cables, and 31km of access tracks.

In October 2016, the board refused to grant permission.

The proposed turbines were to be developed in five clusters and would be 169m high.

The board said it was turning down the proposal on grounds including that, in the absence of any national wind energy strategy with a spatial dimension for the areas concerned, it would be premature.

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The board said it would be an undesirable precedent that could undermine any future strategy for the area.

Other reasons cited by the board included that the project, which consists of widely dispersed cluster-based wind farms, would have an adverse effect on the local residences and heritage, and would have long-term significant adverse effects on local roads.

Element Power challenged the board's refusal on grounds including that the planning authority had acted outside of its powers, and that its decision in relation to the lack of a national wind energy strategy was too vague and unclear.

Mr Justice Haughton said the board acted outside of its powers and had taken irrelevant considerations into account when it decided to refuse permission on the basis of a lack of a national wind energy strategy.

The judge said a wind energy policy was contained in two county developments plans.

However, in its decision to refuse, it appeared to the court that the board failed to address by reference to those plans if it should grant permission.

The judge also found that the board had fettered its discretion when it determined that the proposed development was premature pending the implementation of a national wind energy strategy.

The Keag environment group's Facebook page posted a report yesterday, stating it will call a public meeting to assess the judgement.


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Irish Independent