New wind farm developments may be delayed by High Court challenges after a group of west Clare residents became the first local opposition group to secure leave for a judicial review.
High Court Judge Marie Bake has granted members of the Coore/Shanaway Residents Group leave to seek a judicial review of An Bord Pleanala's decision to grant planning permission for four 85-metre high wind turbines in the Miltown Malbay area of Co Clare.
According to court documents, the group will seek a review on 10 grounds, including claims that the board failed to carry out a "proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) as required under national and European law".
It claimed the board failed to "properly record its determination and failed to give any proper reasons for its determination contrary to national and European law".
It has also raised concerns that the board failed to take on board recommendations of an inspector who urged refusal of permission and did not alert the inspector to further significant information it sought and obtained.
"The board failed to give any or any proper reasons for not allowing the recommendation of the inspector who recommended refusal of permission. The board sought and obtained significant further information but never directed the inspector for report on same," it said.
It also states that the board failed to properly notify the public of the "significant new information and revised EIS in accordance with law".
It added that the board had failed to have regard for Clare County Council's decision to refuse permission.
"The council found the development would contravene a large number of development objectives," the court documents stated.
The outcome of this judicial review will have major implications for wind farm developments in the country.
The development by McMahon Finn Wind Acquisitions Limited in the town lands of Shanavogh East, Shanavogh West and Coore was refused permission by Clare County Council in August 2011.
But following a prolonged period of nearly three years An Bord Pleanala granted permission with 22 conditions on appeal last June with a reduction in turbines from six to four.
The group recently stated it was "appalled" by the board's decision to overturn Clare County Council's refusal for permission to construct a wind farm near their homes.
It expressed concern this "industrial development" in very close proximity to their homes would affect their health, especially that of their children and older community members.
A spokesman for An Bord Pleanála said the board received the legal papers on Tuesday and has begun work on its response, which is only at the initial stages.