The Judicial Review granted last year by the High Court challenging a windfarm near Donald Trump’s Doonbeg Golf Resort is to be fast-tracked after Mr Justice McGovern made an order admitting the matter into the Commercial Court last week.
The application had been refused by Clare County Council to protect the freshwater pearl mussel and this refusal was commended to the Board by its Inspector. However, the Board rejected the Council’s decision to refuse and the Inspector’s recommendations and gave permission for the development.
In an affidavit provided to support the application to the Commercial Court the operator, Clare Wind Farms Ltd, said the case must be dealt with ‘as a matter of urgency’ as it is ‘fundamental’ and of ‘critical importance to its commercial viability’. The developer claims that the business case for the windfarm relies upon supports of the government backed REFIT II scheme which requires planning permission to be in place by 1 January 2018.
The challenge is being brought by Friends of the Irish Environment, whose first objection against the original 44-turbine development was lodged in 2011 and upheld by the Board after an oral hearing in 2015. The most recent application for an additional 12-turbines was also refused by the Council but granted by the Board in October 2016. FIE’s Judicial Review supports the Council and the Board’s Inspector’s arguments that there was no certainty that fresh water pearl mussel would not be adversely impacted by the development.
In an affidavit Dr. Evelyn Moorkens, the NPWS expert on the fresh water pearl mussel and the validator of the national database of non-marine molluscs for Ireland, points out that the assessment of the mussels in the local area was insufficient and that the ground for permitting the use for the first time of a chemical compound to prevent the excavated soil from polluting the water poses in itself a threat to the fresh water pearl mussel.
The expert pointed out that not using chemical dosing to prevent the disturbed soil flowing into the river with ‘siltbusters’ or other coagulants has been a ‘mainstay of accepted mitigation practice’. She outlined that these products are ‘usually metals that are highly toxic to the fresh water pearl mussel and can travel many hundreds of kilometres in large European rivers, yet the Board have certainty that they will not travel down a few kilometres to the site of mussels.’
Clare County Council gave a further reason for refusing the application as the impact the wind farm would have on the view from the Trump development.
US President and owner of the Doonbeg resort Donald Trump called FIE shortly after he purchased the property in 2014 offering his assistance in FIE’s opposition to the wind farm. Trump had recently abandoned plans for extending his Scottish golf resort because of off-shore wind farm developments, which he opposes as ‘environmentally irresponsible’ and a ‘blight on the landscape’. The organisation refused the offer.
Verification: Tony Lowes 087 2176316