High Court rules against environmental campaigner in challenge to College Green plaza

An environmental campaigner does not have any right under law to challenge a refusal for the College Green Civic Plaza plan in Dublin, the High Court has ruled.

High Court rules against environmental campaigner in challenge to College Green plaza

An environmental campaigner does not have any right under law to challenge a refusal for the College Green Civic Plaza plan in Dublin, the High Court has ruled.

Mr Justice David Barniville said John Conway does not have standing to seek judicial review of An Bord Pleanála's October last refusal of permission to Dublin City Council for the plaza.

The main reason for the board's refusal was the uncertainty of the city council's proposals for dealing with the banning of buses from College Green so that it can be turned into a pedestrian/cyclist/Luas-only area.

The board, to which the council's plan was referred for a ruling, said there was a failure to demonstrate the capacity of the quays to take not just the re-routed buses, but the additional pedestrian traffic which would have to use the quays.

The plan was contrary to proper planning and sustainable development, the board said.

Mr Conway, who is from Dundalk and part of the Louth Environmental Group, wanted the court to quash the board's decision and have it sent back to it for reconsideration. The council was a notice party.

Mr Conway argued, among other things, there was a divergence of opinion in relation to traffic matters between the board inspector and another in-house inspector appointed by the board to assist in considering transportation/traffic issues.

He said this divergence of opinion "highlights the subjective nature" of the traffic assessment which was the main reason for refusal.

He also claimed the refusal decision was unlawful because the traffic assessment failed to take account of significant changes proposed by the National Transport Authority (NTA) to the Dublin Bus network, known as "BusConnects".

Mr Justice Barniville, who is the judge dealing with strategic infrastructure developments, said having considered papers in the case he felt there was a preliminary issue to be dealt with first as to whether Mr Conway had any standing to bring the proceedings.

The judge concluded Mr Conway does not have standing under Irish law which meets EU law requirements of "wide access to justice". He also concluded he had no standing under the EU directive itself in relation to access to justice.

Nothing in the directive or in Court of Justice of the EU jurisprudence led him to conclude that the Irish national rules on standing should be disapplied or interpreted differently so as to require standing to be afforded to Mr Conway to challenge the board's decision, he said.

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