Farm Ireland

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Wind farm operator loses High Court challenge to a refusal of permission for 25 turbines in Meath

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Tim Healy

A wind farm operator has lost a High Court challenge to a refusal of permission for 25 turbines - which would be among the tallest in the country - in north Meath.

North Meath Wind Farm (NWF), and its shareholder, Element Power Ireland (EPI), brought the challenge against An Bord Pleanála over a refusal for the wind turbines at Castletownmoor, about 2.9km north of Kells.

A central feature of NWF/EPI's challenge was  over an alleged error and another admitted error in an inspector's report, which became part of the board's decision.

The alleged error related to the mischaracterisation of the surrounding landscape of the wind farm site as "hilly and farmland" rather than "hilly and flat farmland and flat peat land".  

The admitted error was in relation to the number of buildings within a 1.31km radius of the turbines.

The board opposed the challenge.

Mr Justice Michael Twomey refused to quash the decision and remit it back to the board.

He said that despite the alleged error in relation to the description of the landscape and the admitted error in relation to surrounding buildings, there was a reasonable basis upon which the board could refuse permission.

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It was irrelevant that NWF/EPI believed that, if the board had not made the alleged and admitted errors, that permission would have been granted, he said.

"This may be difficult for the applicant (NWF/EPI) to hear.

"However, the fact of the matter is that specialist administrative bodies, such as An Bord Pleanála, are entitled to make errors without their decision necessarily impacting on the validity of the decision, even if where those errors impact upon the decision reached", the judge said.

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