Friday 20 September 2019

Farmer wins Supreme Court appeal stopping compulsory purchase of land by IDA

Thomas Reid of Hedsor House, Leixlip, Co. Kildare pictured outside the Four Courts
Thomas Reid of Hedsor House, Leixlip, Co. Kildare pictured outside the Four Courts

A FARMER has won his Supreme Court appeal against a decision to allow the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to compulsorily acquire lands he and his family have worked for more than a century.

Thomas Reid (53) sued both the IDA and the State after the decision was made to compulsorily acquire his 72 acre property, consisting of farm land and the Reid family home at Blakestown, Maynooth, Co Kildare.

The IDA argued it was entitled to acquire Mr Reid's lands under powers granted to it in section 16 of the 1986 Industrial Development Act.

Mr Reid, who did not want to sell his land, claimed the IDA's decision was flawed and unfair. He also claimed it breached his property rights as well as his rights under the Constitution and European Convention of Human Rights.

The land, which the IDA wants for potential new development, adjoins both the Carton House Estate and the INTEL site in Leixlip.

In 2013, the High Court held the proposed compulsory purchase of the land was provided for by law. The decision was clearly intended to achieve the IDA's objective of encouraging industrial development in Ireland, the court said.

It also found the decision to acquire the lands was neither unfair nor flawed.

Mr Reid appealed to the Supreme Court.

In a unanimous decision, a five-judge Supreme Court overturned the High Court judgment in 2013 dismissing Mr Reid's case.

Giving the courts decision Mr Justice William McKechnie said the making of the compulsory purchase order in November 2012 went beyond the powers of the 1986 Act.

The court had to consider whether the IDA has the power to assemble a land bank otherwise than by agreement and in circumstances where it has not identified the industrial user which will ultimately benefit from the acquisition.

Mr Justice McKechnie said section 16 of the 1986 Act " does not confer any power on the IDA to acquire lands not required for immediate use, but which might be utilised at some future time."

For that to be the case, he said, there would have to be an express statutory provisions to that effect.

The Judge also said preconditions in section 16 of the 1986 Act that allow the IDA exercise it powers to compulsory purchase Mr Reid's lands had not been satisfied.

The Court also set aside the decision to compulsory acquire the lands due to objective bias.

The judge also commented the IDA is one of only two substantial bodies where the legislature has not moved to adjust "outdated practices" to bring them more in conformity with more enlightened approach to providing protection to personal property rights.

Afterwards a delighted Mr Reid shook hands with his legal team.

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