06 Jul 2022

Laois Offaly residents go to court to stop solar power farm

Solar farm

Residents challenge permission in court Project in court

A High Court challenge has been brought against An Bord Pleanala's decision to grant planning permission for a solar energy-generating facility in the Midlands. 

The action has been launched by a residents' group opposed to the board's decision of October 4 last to allow Elgin Energy Services Limited to develop and operate a solar powered electricity generating station and arrays of solar panels on a 90-hectare site at the townlands of Treascon and Clondooluck, Portarlington.

In their action the 'Concerned Residents of Treascon and Clondoolusk' claim the board's decision is invalid on grounds including that the decision contravenes EU directives on habitats, and on Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA).

The board also failed to carry out a proper Appropriate Assessment (AA) on the effects the proposed development may have on the local environment, it is submitted.

Represented by Oisin Collins SC, with Margaret Heavey Bl, instructed by solicitor Aoife O'Connell, the group claims the board erred by screening out certain matters from its AA.

The matters including the effect the proposed development with have on certain species and on nearby special areas of conservation, it is claimed.

The species that may be affected by the proposed development include the Whooper Swan and the Fresh Water Pearl Mussel; the court also heard.

It is further submitted that when arriving at its decision to grant permission the board failed to have regard for flood risk assessments contained in the Co Offaly Development Plan.

In its judicial review proceedings against An Bord Pleanála, Ireland and the Attorney General, the group seeks an order quashing the board's decision to grant the proposed development planning permission.

Elgin Energy Services Ltd is a notice party to the action.

The matter came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday. The judge, on an ex-parte basis, directed that the group's application for permission to bring the challenge be made on notice, or in the presence of the other parties.

The matter will return before the courts in January.

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