Monday 24 September 2018

Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal from local residents over planned new €320m runway at Dublin Airport

The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by local residents over the planned €320m new runway at Dublin Airport.
The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by local residents over the planned €320m new runway at Dublin Airport.

The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by local residents over the planned €320m new runway at Dublin Airport.

In a written determination, a three-judge Supreme Court said the matters raised by 22 residents in their appeal about a challenge to a decision to extend the period of the project's planning approval did not involve an issue of public importance.

Last February, the High Court's Mr Justice Max Barrett refused permission for leave to bring an appeal the case to the Court of Appeal. He found no points of exceptional public importance had been raised. 

The decision followed Mr Justice Barrett's November judgment rejecting the residents' case against the runway.

The residents then directly applied for an appeal to the Supreme Court. Such applications are first dealt with by the Supreme by way of written determination.

The residents had challenged the decision of the planning authority, Fingal Council, to extend what had been a ten-year permission to develop the airport, granted in 2007, until 2022.

They claimed a fresh environmental impact assessment (EIA) and/or a first appropriate assessment (AA) under the EU Habitats Directive were required as part of any decision to extend permission.  They claimed they were precluded from the extension decision and that development work on the site had commenced without proper compliance with the original permission granted.

Fingal Council, and the State, opposed the application for an appeal, as did the Dublin Airport Authority and Ryanair who were notice parties in the case.

The Supreme Court, in its determination, said the High Court had found the proceedings were an impermissible collateral attack on the original planning permission process, which the residents had fully participated in.

The High Court also decided that an extension of time of the planning permission did not constitute a development consent for the purposes of the the EU Directive requiring a new EIA. 

A similar argument was also made in relation to the Habitats Directive but, the Supreme Court said, as the High Court noted, no evidential basis or legal argument was made about this.  It was "no more than a bare assertion unsupported by evidence" and this cannot be said to raise an issue of general importance, the Supreme said.

It also said that, for essentially the same reason, no issue of EU law arose which would require a reference of the case to the European Court of Justice.

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