A CORK harbour environmental group have won their legal challenge over the granting of planning permission for a €160m incinerator at Ringaskiddy.
The High Court's Mr Justice David Barniville ruled today that Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (Chase) was entitled to succeed on two of its 11 grounds of challenge to a planning permission granted by An Bord Pleanála (ABP) in May 2018.
He will make final orders in the case later after the sides have considered the 241-page judgment.
The Board granted permission to Indaver Ireland Ltd for the development by a five to two majority after an inspector with ABP had recommended refusal.
In his judgment, the judge found the board’s decision was affected by objective bias by reason of prior involvement of one of its members, Conall Boland, the then deputy chairperson of the board, in work which he did in 2004 when employed by a firm of consultants – RPS MCOS Consulting Engineers – who were engaged by Indaver to make submissions to Cork County Council and Cork City Council on reviews to those councils’ waste management plans.
The judge was satisfied the work done by Mr Boland had a ‘clear, rational and cogent’ connection with Indaver’s application to the board for permission for the development of the waste to energy facility at Ringaskiddy.
He also found in favour of the group in relation to certain arguments made concerning the interpretation of Strategic Infrastructure Development provisions of the 2000 Planning Act.
The judge will make final orders in the case later after the sides have considered the judgment.
David Holland SC, for the applicants, said today, arising from the judgment, his side would be seeking the permission should be quashed.
The judge said he would ‘need a lot of persuasion’ to reach a conclusion he should quash the permission without returning the matter for reconsideration by the board but said he hoped to have final orders determined quickly after hearing submissions.
He has adjourned the matter for mention to April 13th.
Responding to the judgment, the Cork Green Party congratulated the campaigners on their ‘huge victory’.
A spokesperson said it was a ‘brilliant day for Cork, for our public health, and for our environment’.
They added: ‘This is a great decision for Cork and huge vindication of the Chase campaign and everyone involved. We cannot lock ourselves into practices that ensure we will have to choose a defeatist technology – incineration.’
Cllr Dan Boyle said there should be no appeal from the government against the decision and Cllr Alan O’Connor said that incineration of waste is contrary to the development of a circular economy. ‘We cannot increase Ireland’s incineration capacity when we are beginning the long road to resource management, circular production, and circular economic activity. Today’s decision is absolutely the right decision for Cork and Ireland. We are all hugely grateful to the campaigners at Chase who have fought for this outcome for so many long years.’