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High court overturns permission for 165ac solar farm

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Stock image: PA

Stock image: PA

Stock image: PA

The High Court has overturned a decision by An Bord Pleanala to grant planning permission for an electricity generating solar farm.

In judicial review proceedings, environmental activist Peter Sweetman sought orders against both the board and the State aimed at quashing the November 2018 decision giving the go-ahead for the solar farm on a 67.8 hectare site at Fiddane, Ballyhea, Co Cork.

The board  opposed the application and had argued that the its decision remain undisturbed by the court.

The board granted permission after Mr Sweetman, appealed a decision by Cork County Council to grant  permission for the development.

The developer of the proposed solar farm, IGP Solar 8 Ltd, was a notice party to the proceedings.

On Friday Mr Justice Denis McDonald found that that the board did not carry out a proper screening exercise for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in relation to the proposed development.

This failure by the board, the Judge said, rendered its decision to grant permission invalid.

Other arguments advanced on behalf of Mr Sweetman including that the proposed solar farm required to be assessed under the European Environmental Impact Assessment Directive were dismissed after the judge found the arguments had not been properly made out.

The judge also held that the proceedings against the State must also fail on the grounds that  the case against Ireland and the Attorney General was not properly pleaded as is required.

The court, after hearing submissions from the parties, will rule at a later date if the matter can be remitted back to the Board for a fresh consideration.

The judge adjourned the matter to allow the parties consider his decision.

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