Environmental campaigners opposed to plans for a €160m incinerator in Cork Harbour have been given leave to mount a legal challenge to the proposed plant.
The High Court has cleared the way for Chase (Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment) to launch a judicial review of An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission to the controversial Indaver Ireland project on May 29.
Mr Justice David Barni-ville ruled that there were sufficient grounds to bring a judicial review challenge and he adjourned the case to next Monday.
Chase chairwoman Mary O’Leary welcomed the High Court decision, saying the incinerator should not have been permitted.
“We believe the board was wrong to go against its inspector’s recommendation to refuse,” she said.
“That recommendation was continuing a pattern: Every one of the three senior planning inspectors involved since 2003 has declared the site unsuitable. Each of them has walked the site.”
In addition to seeking an order quashing the decision to grant planning permission, Chase is seeking an order quashing the environmental impact assessment (EIA) carried out by the planning authority on May 23.
It is also seeking a declaration that An Bord Pleanála erred in law and had no jurisdiction to grant planning permission.
It is also seeking a declaration that the board erred in law by allegedly failing to carry out any or any legally adequate EIA or appropriate assessment prior to the decision to grant development consent.
The board granted planning permission under the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006 to Indaver Ireland for an incinerator at a 13.5 hectare site at the end of the Ringaskiddy Peninsula.
The incinerator will have an operational life of 30 years and the capacity to process 240,000 tonnes of municipal waste and 24,000 tonnes of hazardous waste annually. The decision ran contrary to the board’s own planning inspector, who recommended that the project be refused, following an oral hearing in 2016.
Ms O’Leary said they were delighted the application for permission to bring the judicial review had succeeded.
“Our legal team will continue to prepare for the full hearing, whenever it takes place,” she said.
Court papers will now be served on the board and Indaver. The case will be back before the court for procedural directions next week.
Chase, through a GoFundMe page, has raised more than €100,000 towards the cost of the legal challenge.
The court can only grant permission to launch a judicial review if it is satisfied that there are substantial grounds for contending that the decision being challenged is invalid or ought to be overturned, and that the body bringing the case has a legally sufficient interest in the matter.
In a judicial review, the court examines the legality of a decision made by a public body and not the merits of the case.
Chase has campaigned against the incinerator project for almost two decades. Indaver Ireland has applied three times since 2001 to build the facility.
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