The High Court
A Kildare waste facility has lost its High Court case against An Bord Pleanala.
Cleary Compost and Shredding Ltd, which is based in Monasterevin, sought a judicial review to quash the planning board’s decision to dismiss an appeal it made in relation to planning permission.
The company questioned the approach of the board and argued it’s “decision was not supported by evidence”, was “unreasonable, and was made without fairness of process and contrary to natural justice.”
However, Ms Justice Baker dismissed the application last Monday, July 10 and issued her judgment.
Cleary Composting is the owner of Larchill Farm, comprising 300 acres. The judge noted it operates a waste management/composting facility involving the processing and storage of horticultural and agricultural waste and organic materials, and the compost product is used to replenish the soil on Larchill.
She outlined the planning history of the site in the 35 page document.
In January 2015 the applicant appealed the refusal by Kildare County Council to grant planning to extend the composting facility to accept an extra 12,000 tonnes of waste a year.
An Bord Pleanála subsequently refused the appeal stating “the planning history of the facility did not support the application for an extension as the activity did not have the benefit of planning permission, nor was it exempt under the Act.”
The company challenged this decision and leave was granted to bring an application for judicial review on July 27 2015.
Cleary Composting claimed the board misconstrued the nature of the existing use and activity, and its finding that the development was unauthorised was not supported by any evidence.
It claimed the decision was made without finding by a court competent to do so, and where Kildare County Council determined the works were not development, or if they were development, were exempt.
Cleary felt the decision of the board was “unreasonable or irrational”.
The applicant said the decision was made without being afforded the opportunity to make submissions.
The judge found the board was entitled to come to a conclusion that the changed activities constituted development, which was not exempt, and it had sufficient evidence to support the decision.
“I do not consider, therefore, that the board came to its decision without considering the facts, without giving reasons and without weighing those facts,” she said.
The judge concluded the board did not exercise its jurisdiction to dismiss the appeal by treating it as vexatious or frivolous, which it is entitled to do or that the appeal comprised a ransom demand.
“The decision arrived at by the board was one that flowed from previous decision but logically and lawfully did so, and there is no irrationality in that approach. The board could not lawfully ignore its previous recent determinations and refuse to grant planning permission as to do would permit an impermissible graft upon a facility which it had previously determined required planning permission and environmental assessment.”