Thursday, April 16, 2015
Today, 16 April 2014, the High Court agreed to remit the wind farm application which was the subject of its judgment in O’Grianna (see previous post) back to An Bord Pleanala (the Board) rather than require the entire planning process to be recommenced before the planning authority.
The Board asked the Court to send the matter back to the Board so that it might complete an EIA of the whole project, including both wind turbines and grid connection, in the manner outlined in the Court’s previous judgment. The alternative would result in the developer having to recommence the planning application process from square one. This, in the Board’s view, would be wasteful in terms of time and cost, and would not be in the interests of fairness or justice. The Court agreed.
The Court recognised that it should not adopt a course which is unnecessarily onerous upon the developer in terms of wasting time and cost if that can be avoided. The Court was influenced by the fact that the Board, as an uninterested party, was of the view that it could comply with the Court’s requirements and the requirements under the Directive, and that if there is any flaw in the subsequent process, the applicant will have further opportunity to challenge the Board’s decision at that stage. The Court therefore granted the order for remittal to the Board.
The applicant opposed remittal to the Board, on the basis that the Board has no power to request a further or revised EIS from the applicant, and because the previous invalidity cannot be cured in any event. The applicant has sought leave to appeal the remittal decision to the Supreme Court. That application will be heard on 5 May 2015.