A woman whose High Court objection to a proposed wind farm near her home in Co Tipperary was turned down last year, has been granted leave by the Supreme Court to bring the case to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). The CJEU will examine whether or not An Bórd Pleanála's impact assessment procedures were properly carried out for the wind farm, a joint venture between Coillte and the ESB.
Edel Grace, who lives less than 1km from the proposed development at Keeper Hill, Silvermines, objected on grounds that the development is within a Special Protection Area (SPA) and that the wind farm would affect endangered hen harriers. The court also recognised her close proximity to the proposed wind farm as a factor which granted her case legal standing.
Peter Sweetman, an environmentalist from Co Galway challenged the development alongside Ms Grace and the Supreme Court also recognised his standing, based on the national interest of preserving an endangered species. Last year the Supreme Court acknowledged their right to a “leapfrog” appeal to the Supreme Court, after the High Court found against them and turned down their application to take the case to the Court of Appeals.
The case is just one of many such objections up before the courts, as communities struggle to fend off multiple wind farm applications. Last week, Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon Eugene Murphy said in relation to a Coillte-backed venture being proposed for his area: “I am very anxious that there seems to be cloak and dagger situation in relation to the development of wind farms.”
Murphy was speaking after a meeting alongside Minister for Communications Environment and Natural Resources Denis Naughten, at Castlecoote Community Centre, at which the minister said he knew nothing of proposed wind developments for that area.
“The mood in the room was one of shock and anxiety that Coillte and a currently un-named wind farm development company could be working behind the scenes and under the radar on this project without the knowledge of anyone in Roscommon County Council or even the Minister's office,” Deputy Murphy told the Longford Leader.
He called for legislation to be enacted immediately, with a minimum 1,000-1,500m set-back distance for industrial turbines from people's homes. He said, “The guidelines surrounding the wind farm developments are outdated and ill informed.”