Wednesday 16 October 2019

Wind farm fight set for court hearing

Sliabh Luachra group 'hopeful' their case will be successful

Sinead Kelleher

Chairman of Sliabh Luachra Wind Awareness group Fred O'Sullivan is 'hopeful' that their judicial review case against a planned windfarm in the region will be successful.

The case is listed in the Commercial Court next Tuesday, October 8, for a four-day hearing. 

The local community action group is represented by O'Connnell and Clarke Solicitors in Dublin, who are said to be 'confident' of success in the forthcoming case. 

While there will be a number of key arguments during the  hearing, the main argument is the protection of the community and the environment in the region, according to Mr O'Sullivan. 

The community decided to take a judicial review against An Bord Pleanála following its decision to grant planning for 12 wind turbines in the Sliabh Luachra region. 

Tralee-based Silver Birch Renewables had submitted a planning application for 14 turbines, before the 12 were granted planning. The proposed windfarm will stretch for more than 8km between Ballydesmond and Gneeveguilla, taking in a number of townlands and being in close proximity to local houses. 

The windfarm had been refused planning by Kerry County Council in 2017, but the decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála, who subsequently granted planning. The decision caused upset and anger in the local community. Kerry County Council in their decision had stated that the farm would have a significant impact on the quality of life of local communities. 

A  public meeting took place last December, which was attended by more than 150 people who voiced their anger and said that their community is 'under siege' following the decision to grant planning for the large-scale project.

Following this, a decision was taken by the local community to take their battle to the High Court for a judicial review. This hearing is now scheduled for next Tuesday, October 8. 

However, a number of other cases are also listed for the same date.

The case was moved to the Commercial Court from the High Court to get an earlier hearing date. Fundraising has been taking place since last December to pay the legal costs and to date  €74,000 has been raised. 

A total of €120,00 is the fundraising target, and these funds will be used for the court battle against the planned windfarm and a second legal battle against a planned battery compound also granted planning permission. 

Kerry County Council granted planning to Redfaze Ltd to develop 40 lithium-ion battery storage units in Ballynahulla in Ballydesmond.

Local residents are strongly opposed to both planned projects and the detrimental effects they feel they will have on their local community. The legal case on the battery compound is against Kerry County Council. A final appeal for funds has been issued this week to pay the legal costs. Bank details can be found on the Sliabh Luachra Wind Awareness Facebook page.