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Frank Dunne challenges work on power lines on his stud farm lands

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Stock image.

Stock image.

Stock image.

Frank Dunne, a member of the Dunnes Stores family, has brought a High Court challenge over access to his stud farm lands for refurbishment work on an electricity power line.

Mr Dunne claims access by workers to land in Dunboyne, Co Meath, will affect bloodstock and breeding operations.

He and horse breeder Ann Marshall, along with their company Hamwood Stud Unlimited, have taken two separate but interrelated actions over the ESB and Eirgrid project to refurbish the 22 km electricity line between Maynooth and Woodland in counties Kildare and Meath.

Mr Dunne was also the owner and trainer of “Stanerra”, the only Irish horse to win the prestigious Japan Cup.

He and Ms Marshall say the intended works, which require access to their lands in Dunboyne, will have a “significant effect” on their prize bloodstock and breeding operations.

They fear that if works take place on the site with machinery now there is a “real prospect” of foetal abortions among their mares and cows. Any disruption to operations may damage Hamwood Stud’s “worldwide” reputation, they say

They say they became aware of the intended works when the ESB issued them with a wayleave notice last February requiring access to their lands. This came on foot of impugned statutory declarations by Kildare and Meath county councils that these EirGrid line works were exempt developments, they say.

In a draft development plan, Eirgrid says upgrades to the line are required due to constraints on the transmission network and to secure additional capacity. The refurbishment should extend the 220kV line’s operational life for 35 years, it says.

In their action, the horse breeders claim errors were made at various stages of the planning process as there is an alleged “direct link” between the line project and the development of a substation for multinational technology firm Intel. They claim these projects should have been considered cumulatively.

They say Kildare and Meath county councils wrongly relied on Eirgrid’s “erroneous” report in declaring the line project was exempt from requiring planning permission when it should have been considered together with the substation project.

It is also claimed the procedure governing applications for exempted development under the Planning and Development Act 2016 is contrary to European Union law.

Mr Dunne and Ms Marshall also allege there were various deficiencies in the environmental screening of the effects of these two projects together, contrary to the Habitats Directive. They also argue their right to public participation in the planning process has been breached.

Their case is against Kildare County Council, Meath County Council, Eirgrid PLC, the Attorney General and Ireland.

In their second action, against the ESB, the Attorney General and Ireland, with Eirgrid on notice, they seek an order quashing the ESB’s decision to issue wayleave notices in relation to the access of their land.

They are asking for various declarations about the alleged invalidity of sections of the Electricity Act 1927 in circumstances where a landowner allegedly has no right of appeal over the issuing of a wayleave notice. Their challenge in this action is based on a number of domestic and European law grounds.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan granted permission on an ex-parte basis (only one side was represented in court) for the applicants to bring their judicial review actions. He adjourned the matters.

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