Dispute between wind farm company and farmer over access settled, but another to come

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Tim Healy

A dispute between a wind farm company and a farmer over an agreement about access to his land for cabling has been struck out at the Commercial Court following mediation talks.

However, a second wind farm operator which says it also has a similar access agreement with the farmer is now set to bring proceedings after it expressed disappointment that a deal had been done.

The case concerns access to 0.3 hectares at Bonniconlon, Co Mayo, owned by farmer John Henry.

Two wind farm companies, Black Lough and Aeolus, say they reached agreements with Mr Henry to allow them access in order to lay ducting and cables to connect their wind turbines to the national grid.  Black Lough's five-turbine facility is at Tawnmore, Sligo, while Aeolus has 12 turbines at Oweninny, Mayo.

In February, Black Lough brought Commercial Court proceedings against Mr Henry saying he had failed to comply with an agreement to allow the company on to his land despite him already having been paid €16,000.

Last month, the court was told the second wind farm operator, Aeolus, also had such an agreement with Mr Henry and it wanted to be joined as a co-defendant is the case taken by Black Lough.

Mr Justice Robert Haughton adjourned that application for two weeks after he was told mediation talks were due to take place between Black Lough and Mr Henry and there was no objection to Aeolus attending those talks.

On Monday, Michael Cush SC, for Aeolus, said his client's "worst fears" over the adjournment of its application to be joined in the Black Lough case had been realised.

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He said since the mediation took place, Black Lough had served a notice to discontinue its original case against Mr Henry.

Mr Cush said this was disappointing because this was exactly what his side feared would happen. He was not suggesting there was any breach of undertakings given to the court not to carry out works at the particular "hot spot" of the Henry lands, but the "unhappy result of this is that we will now be instituting proceedings".

Jarlath Fitzsimons SC, for Black Lough, said no undertaking given but it had been stated no works would be carried out and no works were done. His client's proceedings were now at an end and it would meet any further litigation which may be taken.

Peter Shanley BL, for Mr Henry, said his client "remains anxious to facilitate both wind farms".

Mr Justice Haughton said he could not understand why something that seems to involve a simple engineering solution to facilitate both wind farms could not be found.

However, the Black Lough case is now at an end and the Aeolus application to be joined as a co-defendant was therefore moot. He struck out the case.

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