Highfield Solar Limited appeals refusal of south-east facility

A High Court challenge has been mounted against the refusal by Bord Pleanála to give the go-ahead for a solar power-generating facility in the south-east.

The action has been brought by Highfield Solar Limited against Bord Pleanála over the decision of the planning authority last month to refuse the company permission to construct a photovoltaic energy development on a 90-hectare site near Killinick, Co Wexford.

The proposed facility, known as Grahormick Solar Farm, contains a single storey 38kv electrical substation building, electrical building, solar photovoltaic panels ground mounted on steel supports, 6km of new roads, and 13km of electric cabling. If constructed, the solar panels would be assembled in rows over the property. The site is now used for grazing cattle.

Wexford County Council, which in August 2016 refused to grant permission for the development, is a notice party to the proceedings.

The company has a registered address at Old Castle View, Kilgobbin Road, Dublin 18. It claims the board abdicated its responsibility by refusing permission on the basis it would be premature to develop the solar farm before any national or regional strategy on such developments had been adopted.

There is no provision in the planning laws that allows the board refuse or defer consideration of a planning application for a solar farm development, as no national strategy is in place, the company claims.

Irrelevant considerations were also taken into account, the company also claims. The company further argues the board’s decision is inconsistent as it has granted permission for other solar developments in other parts of the country including one in Co Longford and at another location in Co Wexford.

In addition to seeking an order setting aside Bord Pleanála’s refusal, the company seeks declarations including that the board failed to give adequate reasons for its decision. It further seeks a declaration that the board acted ultra vires [beyond its powers] in refusing permission from the proposed development on the basis it would be premature pending the adoption of national, regional or local guidance strategy on solar power.

Permission to bring the action, was granted on an ex-parte basis yesterday by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan. It will come back before the court in May.


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