Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 April 2019

Dispute between farmer and wind farm company over land access takes a twist

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Tim Healy

A dispute between a wind farm company and a farmer over an agreement about access to his land has taken a twist after another wind farm company claimed it also had an agreement with him.

Black Lough Windfarm Ltd has sued John Henry over what it says is his failure to comply with an agreement to allow it access his land at Bonniconlon, Co Mayo.  This is for the purpose of laying cables and ducting so Black Lough can connect its wind farm at Tawnamore, Co Sligo, to the ESB substation.

Black Lough says it has paid him €16,000 as part of a  wayleave agreement allowing it access to 0.3 hectares owned by Mr Henry, who is disputing the claim.

Black Lough claims government assistance for its €26m wind farm is being jeopardised by Mr Henry's position.

It says it wants to avail of a Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment scheme whereby renewable energy generators are guaranteed a minimum price for electricity fed into the national grid for 15 years.   The deadline under the scheme for connection to the grid is December 31 next and the wind turbines must be operational by March 2020.

Its case against Mr Henry was entered into the fast track commercial list last month.

On Monday, the court was told a firm called  Aeolus had also signed an agreement with Mr Henry in relation to access to the same land.

Aeolus has a €50m 12-turbine farm in Co Mayo and was taken over last year by renewable energy investment company NTR.

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Tim O'Sullivan BL, for Aeolus, said his client wanted to be joined as a co-defendant with Mr Henry given his client also says it as an easement agreement on the same land.

Mr Justice Robert Haughton asked if the question of accommodating both wind farm companies had been looked at.  

The judge was told mediation talks were scheduled for this week although Aeolus was not party to those talks.  Lawyers for Mr Henry and Black Lough said they had no objection to Aeolus attending the mediation.

The judge said as a simple solution might be found from those talks, he was prepared to adjourn Aeolus' application to be joined as a defendant.  

The judge said no works or other steps should be taken in the meantime and he adjourned the matter for two weeks.

Online Editors