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Farm slurry biogas electricity generating facility permission set aside


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The High Court has set aside An Bord Pleanála's decision to grant planning permission for the construction of an electricity generating biogas facility in Co Meath.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons quashed the board's permission on June 9, 2016, to Greenfield Ventures Limited for the construction of two anaerobic slurry digestors, storage tanks, an office building, silage pit and other associated works at Gillstown, Garlow Cross, Navan.

The facility is designed to convert farm slurry and other biodegradable waste in renewable energy and fertiliser.

Mr Justice Simons said the board had reached certain conclusions in the case concerning an EU directive on the control of major accident hazards involving dangerous substances.  

These conclusions, he said, were unreasonable because no material had been provided which was capable of justifying those conclusions in regards to EU directive, known as Seveso III.

Niall Halpin of Johnstown, Navan, had brought the judicial review challenge on grounds including that the board's decision was flawed.

Mr Halpin has permission to build a private dwelling house close to the proposed plant.

He had concerns about the noise and disturbance that will come from the proposed development.

The action was opposed by the board.   Greenfield Ventures and Meath Co Council were notice parties to the action.

Mr Justice Simons said one of the concerns was that the board had found that there was no likelihood of the 10 tonne limit for the storage of biogas at the proposed site being exceeded.

This conclusion, he said, was based on technical information provided by the developer.

However, when the documentation actually relied upon by the the board was considered, that conclusion could not be supported, he said. 

Contrary to a recommendation made to the board, a condition of the planning permission did not require the developer to demonstrate that the maximum quantity of biogas present on the site at one time could never exceed 10 tonnes, he said. 

The Judge rejected Mr Halpin's arguments that the proposed development was incorrectly characterised by the board.

He also found an Environmental Impact Assessment screening determination carried out on the proposed plant was lawful.

The judge, who adjourned the matter to a date in early June.  He would hear the sides then on whether the matter should be remitted back to the board for further consideration or if a fresh application for planning should be made. 

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