Plan to pipe more sewage into Dublin Bay facing legal challenge

Dublin City Council will have to await the outcome of a major legal challenge to its proposed €270m Ringsend scheme to pipe the waste products of about 1.8 million people into the heart of Dublin Bay.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton today dismissed an application by the local authority to strike out legal proceedings by concerned residents of Sandymount and Merrion who want to block the development.

In a reserved judgment, he said Sandymount, with a huge sandy beach stretching far out into the Irish Sea, was partly below sea level.

The City Council wanted to bring up-to-date a sewage works designed for Dublin when it had many fewer residents.

He said An Bord Pleanála had granted planning permission in 2012 for an enlargement of the sewage works which included a nine kilometre pipeline that would discharge treated effluent into Dublin Bay.

The residents claimed the discharge would affect a special area of conservation. In January last they had obtained an injunction temporarily restraining development of the works while they mounted their legal challenge.

They are looking for orders to overturn An Bord Pleanala’s permission granted last November, just weeks before the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht proposed designating a 40km coastal stretch from Howth to Dalkey Island as a special area of conservation.

Niall Handy, for the residents, had argued they were actively involved in the Ringsend Plant planning process from the outset and were entitled to seek judicial review of the Council’s plan.

He said this was not a “not in my back yard” argument as there were much wider issues at stake for all of Dublin Bay.

Judge Charleton said the Council had asked the High Court to strike out the residents’ challenge on the grounds they failed to disclose that the work had already commenced and also that, being an unincorporated association, they had no capacity in law to bring a judicial review of the scheme.

The judge said the grounds for seeking discontinuance of action by the residents for failure to disclose were exceptionally weak and he dismissed this feature of the Council’s application.

He also dismissed the Council’s application on grounds that they constituted an unincorporated association.

He said ministerial regulations prohibiting unincorporated associations from seeking to appeal planning decisions did not exist.

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