Cork group mounts Supreme Court challenge over flood relief works

The Save Cork City Community Association CLG (SCCA) in a leapfrog appeal to the Supreme Court wants the decision by the High Court last year to refuse to strike down the planning permission for the works around the Morrison’s Island area reversed
Cork group mounts Supreme Court challenge over flood relief works

High court reporters

A community group has mounted a Supreme Court bid to have planning permission for certain flood relief works in Cork city overturned.

The Save Cork City Community Association CLG (SCCA) in a leapfrog appeal to the Supreme Court wants the decision by the High Court last year to refuse to strike down the planning permission for the works around the Morrison’s Island area reversed.

But counsel for Cork City Council Pearse Sreenan SC on Wednesday told the five judge Supreme Court that the relief works at Morrison’s Island are necessary and a senior planning inspector’s report had shown that 374 properties will benefit from it.

Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne presiding said the court knows about Cork and flooding. “We know there are problems. We do appreciate it is a problem to be resolved,” Ms Justice Dunne said.

The judge said there was room for debate on the issue, but it was not going to be in the court.

She said she hated the idea of flooding . “It is miserable,” she added.

Mr Sreenan replied that the relief works were necessary and were a matter Cork City Council wanted to progress.

An Bord Pleanála in June 2020 granted permission for remedial works to the existing quay walls in Cork city and the construction of improvement works and flood defence works between Parliament Bridge and Parnell Bridge along Morrison’s Quay and Fr Matthew Quay, and a short section along Union Quay close to Trinity footbridge at Morrison’s Island.

SCCA mounted a legal challenge in the High Court but Mr Justice Richard Humphreys found that the group had not made out grounds for an order quashing the permission granted to Cork City Council for the works.

He also ruled that the group was not entitled to a stay on the works.

The group applied to the Supreme Court for a direct or 'leapfrog' hearing of the appeal against the High Court's decision. The respondents in the case are An Bord Pleanála, the Minister for Housing , Local Government and Heritage and the Attorney General with Cork City Council a notice party to the proceedings.

The appeal to a five judge Supreme Court centres on a single issue on whether an Bord Pleanala had a jurisdiction to carry out a screening for the purposes of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Direction under a section of the Planning and Development Act.

It relates to whether An Bord Pleanala has to power to conduct an EIA screening exercise under the Planning Act. The SCCA contends an Bord Pleanala can request additional information on the effects on the environment of the proposed development but has no jurisdiction to request the submission of an EIA report and no jurisdiction to carry out one.

The group argues that the High Court decision has profound implications for legal certainty in local authority development.

Counsel for the SCCA James Devlin SC instructed by Eoin Brady solicitor told the court that it is agreed there should be EIA screening but the question is who has the power to do it. He said his side says an Bord Pleanála does not have the power and should have said "we can’t do it".

The court comprising of Mr Justice Seamus Woulfe, Mr Justice Peter Charleton, Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan with Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne presiding reserved its judgment to a later date.

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