Company loses High Court challenge to An Bord Pleanala decision on farm's composting activities

By Ann O'Loughlin

A company has failed in a High Court challenge to a Bord Pleanála refusal to approve composting activities by it on a farm in Co. Kildare.

Cleary Compost and Shredding Ltd claimed the board's refusal to approve its operations at the 300 acre Larchhill Farm in Monasterevin was unreasonable, made without fairness of process, and not supported by the evidence.

Ms Justice Marie Baker ruled the board was entitled to come to a conclusion that the farm, which had historically been used to grow a range of crops, had changed use and constituted development which was not exempt from planning permission. The board had sufficient evidence to support its decision, she said.

The judge said the land had the benefit of three planning permissions granted by Kildare Co Council between 1995 and 2006 for the erection of a number of sheds for the storage of grain, hay, fodder and ancillary works. Composting activities began after the last of these permissions was granted.

The council later made three declarations that composting was exempted development although, in 2015, it (the council) refused to grant permission to extend an existing composting facilities to treat an additional 12,000 tonnes of waste.

A third party referred the council's three declarations to An Bord Pleanála which found composting was not exempted.

Cleary got leave to challenge that decision by the High Court.

In her decision on that judicial review challenge, Ms Justice Baker said the board engaged a number of "extensive analyses" of the facility in five determinations or decisions between 2012 and 2014 which found it was not exempt.

The judge rejected the Cleary claim the board dealt with the case summarily. Its decision was reasoned and firmly based in the recent, relevant, clear and detailed planning history of the site.

She did not accept the board ignored the three council declarations that composting was exempt. It had departed from those declarations for sound reasons based on the evidence before it.

She also rejected the claim the board failed to give adequate reasons for its decision. It gave coherent and adequate reasons, she said.

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