Representation of proposed plant from planning applicant.
High Court

High Court challenge brought by NGOs against proposed Biogas plant in Galway

The NGOs claim that the proposed plant will be located in an environmentally sensitive area.

TWO NON-GOVERNMENTAL Organisations have launched a High Court challenge over a decision to grant planning permission for a biogas plant close to what are claimed to be environmentally sensitive areas in County Galway.

The action has been brought by Gort Biogas Group CLG and the Burren Lowlands CLG NGOs which claim An Bord Pleanala’s decision to grant permission for of a biogas producing plant on a 10-hectare site at Ballynamantas, Kinisha and Glenbrack Co Galway is flawed and should be set aside.

The proposed development is on lands north of Gort, which had formerly been used as a horse-riding facility.

When operational the proposed facility, which is designed to generate energy-producing biogas, will accept 90,000 tonnes per year of materials including silage, cattle slurry, organic waste from the agri-food industry.

In judicial review proceedings against the board the NGOs claim last December’s decision to grant Sustainable Bioenergy Ltd permission is invalid.

The NGOs say that people living in the locality are concerned about the facility using liquid wastes, nitrogen depositions from the air, as well as safety concerns the impact of increased traffic in and around the proposed plant.

The NGOs claim that the proposed plant will be located in a geologically sensitive and ecological area and if constructed will be is a short distance from a large number designated environmentally protected sites in South Galway and North Clare.

They further have concerns about an alleged failure in the planning permission to identify the 5,000 to 10,000 acres of forestry and farmland needed to spread the large volumes of digestate generated by the proposed plant.

They claim that the permission was granted in breach of both EU and domestic laws, including the 2000 Planning and Development Act and EU directives on Habitats and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA).

It is also alleged that the permission is in breach of the 2022 to 2028 Galway County Development Plan, and that the board failed to inform the NGOs that the decision to grant permission would be made without an oral hearing.

The further claim that the board failed to carry out an EIA and granted permission in the absence of essential information.

The proposed plant has been the subject of planning applications since 2018.
Represented by Oisin Quinn SC, Margaret Heavey Bl instructed by O’Connell Clarke solicitors the NGOS seek various orders and declarations including an order quashing the decision to grant planning permission for the proposed project.

Ireland and the Attorney General are also respondents to the NGOs’ action.

The developer of the proposed plant is a notice party to the proceedings.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted on an ex-parte basis by Ms Justice Niamh Hyland.

The case will return before the High Court later this year.

Aodhan O Faolain