Court grants permission to challenge windfarm approval

A legal challenge has been launched against An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission for an electricity generating windfarm in Co Tipperary.

The High Court action has been brought by Edward Buckley of Gurtnara, Upperchurch, Thurles, Co Tipperary, and Edel Grace of Grousehall Milestone, Thurles, arising out of the planning authority’s decision to allow the construction of a windfarm development at Upperchurch, Co Tipperary.

The proposed development comprises of 22 turbines, with a hub height of 81.6m and an overall height of 126.6m, and ancillary works, an access road and buildings.

In proceedings against An Bord Pleanála, they seek an order quashing the board’s decision of August 12 to grant a 10-year permission to Ecopower to build the windfarm.

They also seek a number of declarations including that in its decision the board acted outside of its powers, acted contrary to sections of the 2000 Planning and Development Act, and in breach of the 1992 EU Council Habitats Directive.

Ecopower Developments Ltd, which was given permission by the board to build the windfarm, and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, are notice parties to the proceedings.

Yesterday Mr Justice Michael Peart granted Ms Grace and Mr Buckley permission to bring a challenge against the planning authority’s decision. Leave to bring the action was granted on an ex-parte basis where only side was present in court. The matter will come before the court again in November.

Moving the application David Browne, counsel for the applicants, said the challenge is brought on grounds including that permission was granted after Mr Buckley withdrew his written consent for his lands to be used as part of the proposed development.

Mr Browne said the proposed development required Mr Buckley’s lands for a required access road at Knocknameena, Upperchurch.

It is also claimed the decision breaches EU directives on the conservation of natural habitats of wild fauna and flora. The board, he said, also failed to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment before consent to the development was granted.


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