Families challenge wind farm

A fresh High Court challenge has been brought against the planning authority’s decision to grant planning permission for a wind farm development in Co Cork.

In proceedings against An Bord Pleanála, a group of local families wants the court to quash the board’s decision of June 15 granting Framore Ltd planning permission for a development at the townlands of Derragh, Rathgaskig and Lack Beg in Ballingeary, Co Cork.

The development consists of six turbines, control building, access roads, underground cables, and ancillary works. The group also seeks declarations from the court including that the board failed to carry out either an environmental impact assessment (EIA) or an appropriate assessment of habitats, flora, and fauna before it granted permission.

Cork County Council and Framore Ltd are notice parties to the action.

The families, represented by Eamon Galligan, secured permission, on an ex parte basis, to bring their action from Mr Justice Bernard Barton, who adjourned the action to October.

Mr Galligan said the challenge arises after the High Court had quashed, and sent for reconsideration, the board’s decision to grant Framore permission to develop six wind turbines in Ballingeary.

In 2014 the High Court found an EIA of the proposed development had to be considered as part of an overall assessment of how they will be connected to the national power grid.

Rejecting arguments by the board and Framore that the turbines and grid connection were separate projects, the High Court held that the EIA of the 100m turbines could not be considered separately from the grid connection, which could involve overhead or underground power lines.

Mr Justice Michael Peart, while rejecting arguments the environmental assessment for the turbines was flawed, had found the grid connection was integral and fundamental to the overall project. Without it, the turbine development would serve no function, he ruled.

The judge had then referred the matter back to An Bord Pleanála for a fresh determination. The board, after reconsidering the application, decided last June to grant permission.

However, counsel said a fresh challenge has been brought that the application considered by the board was substantially different that that which was remitted to the board by the High Court.

Other grounds include that the conclusion of the appropriate assessment conducted by the board was invalid and that an appropriate EIA was not conducted by the board before it decided to grant permission.

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