Two challenges brought against proposed wind farm with 'highest structures in the country'

Two separate High Court challenges have been launched against a decision by An Bord Pleanala to grant planning permission for a wind farm which will have some of the "highest structures in the country".

Two challenges brought against proposed wind farm with 'highest structures in the country'

Two separate High Court challenges have been launched against a decision by An Bord Pleanala to grant planning permission for a wind farm which will have some of the "highest structures in the country".

The actions have been brought against the decision to grant permission to Coole Windfarm Ltd development of a 13-turbine wind farm on peatlands near the village of Coole in northwest Co. Westmeath, near the border with Co. Longford.

The first of the actions have been brought by a local residents groups the North Westmeath Turbine Action Group, and the North Westmeath Turbine Action Group Company Ltd by Guarantee.

The second has been brought by environmental campaigner Mr Peter Sweetman. Both seek various orders and declarations, including an order quashing the board's decision to give the project the go-ahead.

They claim the decision to grant permission is not consistent with EU directives on Habitats and Environmental Impact Assessments.

Michael O'Donnell Bl for the resident's group told the court that one of the grounds of the challenge is that the design and the exact route of a 25km connection from the proposed wind farm to the national electricity grid have not been definitively provided.

Counsel said that as a result no assessment that complies with EU directive of Environmental Impact Assessments has been conducted in respect of the grid connection route.

Counsel said no proper notice of the proposed route of the high-voltage grid connection was published and no consent of relevant landowners has been obtained.

Counsel said the turbines, which have a tip height of 175m, were "almost three times the height of Liberty Hall in Dublin," and if built would be "some of the highest structures in the country".

In the second action, James Devlin SC for Mr Sweetman said one of the grounds of his client's challenge was that the board failed to properly consider continuing peat extraction operations on part of the site for the purposes of an EIA.

Another issue of concern, the court heard, is the impact the proposed development may have on the local bat population.

Permission to bring the challenges against the board was granted, on an ex parte basis, by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan at the High Court today.

The cases will come back before the court in late July.

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