The High Court has quashed planning permission for a proposed €160m incinerator at Ringaskiddy in Cork harbour and has remitted the application back to An Bord Pleanála for further consideration and determination.
Mr Justice David Barniville made the orders which will see the application for planning permission for the plant at Ringaskiddy now be examined afresh from a certain point.
The judge said the planning process for the incinerator has to start now from 2017 immediately prior to a decision made on behalf of the board by Deputy Chairperson Conall Boland not to afford the Cork Harbour Alliance for Safe Enviornment (Chase) and others the opportunity of responding to the further information and submissions received from Indaver Ireland.
“The consequence of the remittal to that point in time is that the addendum, or supplemental report of the inspector dated March 7, 2018, should not be considered by the Board in the course of its consideration of the remitted application as the applicant and others did not have the opportunity of commenting upon the further submissions provided by Indaver in early October 2017,” the judge said.
The judge had last June deferred until today his ruling on whether to permit An Bord Pleanála to reconsider its permission decision for the incinerator or to simply quash its permission for the development, meaning the entire planning process has to restart.
The judge had heard final submissions on what orders should be made as a result of his judgment last March upholding a local environmental group challenge to the board's 2018 permission for the incinerator at Ringaskiddy.
The judge had found in favour of Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (Chase) on two grounds.
He ruled the board’s majority five/two permission was tainted by objective bias because Conall Boland, then deputy chairperson of the board, had previously worked for a firm of consulting engineers engaged by Indaver to make submissions for reviews of waste management plans advanced by Cork County Council and Cork City Council.
The judge was satisfied the work done by Mr Boland in 2004 had a “clear, rational and cogent” connection with Indaver’s 2016 application - its third - for permission for the incinerator and also noted Mr Boland was the presenting member of the board in respect of its consideration of the planning application. Those factors gave rise to a reasonable apprehension of objective bias, he held.
The second ground concerned the board’s jurisdiction to consider an application for permission for a Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID) by an applicant who is not the same person as had engaged in pre-planning consultation with the Board.
The judge ruled the applicant for SID permission must be the same person referred to in the relevant provisions as the “prospective applicant” - the person who engaged in the required pre-application consultation procedure with the board. He found Indaver's Belgian arm was the "prospective applicant" but the 2016 planning application was made by Indaver's Irish arm.
Following that judgment, he heard submissions on what orders should be made as a result of his findings.
Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (Chase) had argued the incinerator permission should be simply quashed. It said it was necessary because the board had not shown any insight into how the court’s findings affected public appreciation of its decision-making.
Indaver Ireland, which has been seeking since 2001 to build the incinerator, and the board, both opposed Chase’s application. They wanted orders that would see the board reconsider the planning application at a particular stage and in line with the court’s March judgment.