Supreme Court quashes permission for Co Clare wind farm
The Supreme Court has overturned permission for a wind farm in Co Clare due to An Bord Pleanála’s failure to make “complete, definitive and precise” findings required by European law for a valid Appropriate Assessment of the project.
The judgment on the challenge by local resident Kathleen Connelly to the proposed development of six wind turbines at Coor West, Shanvogh, addresses important issues of Irish and European law concerning the extent of the Board’s obligations to give reasons for its decisions.
The Board appealed against a High Court finding quashing the Board’s May 2014 permission for the project, granted after the developer appealed Clare County Council’s refusal of permission.
The board rejected its inspector's recommendation to refuse permission and disagreed with various concerns of his, including about the potential impact of the wind farm on the Carrowmore Point to Spanish Point and Islands Special Area of Conservation and on the Mid Clare Coast Special Protection Area.
The High Court’s Mr Justice Max Barrett upheld Ms Connelly’s arguments that the Board, having carried out an appropriate assessment (AA) and environmental impact assessment (EIA), had not provided sufficient reasons for its decision granting permission.
In its appeal, the Board argued the High Court judgment set a “very high threshold” concerning the reasoning requirements for a planning decision maker when a decision involves either an EIA and/or an AA. If the High Court findings were upheld, that would have serious consequences for how the Board and other planning decision makers approach making decisions, it argued.
On Tuesday, a five judge Supreme Court dismissed the Board's appeal but stressed it did so on the basis of "considerably narrower" findings than those made by the High Court.
Giving the court's judgment, the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, said the High Court had imposed "too exacting a standard" on the Board in respect of the obligation under national law to give reasons.