High Court reporters
A community group has lost 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 wanted 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 in a unanimous decision on Friday a five judge Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and it now means the relief works can go ahead.
Mr Justice Seamus Woulfe giving the judgment of the court, said he agreed with the High Court that An Bord Pleanala does have jurisdiction to conduct a screening for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in an application under a certain section of the Planning and Development Act 2000. He therefore dismissed the appeal.
The other four judges Mr Justice Peter Charleton, Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan with Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne presiding all agreed.
The Supreme Court previously heard 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.
The judgment is also expected to have implications for other cases where a similar issue may arise.
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.
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 were 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 the Supreme Court centred on a single issue on whether An Bord Pleanála had a jurisdiction to carry out a screening for the purposes of an EIA direction under a section of the Planning and Development Act.
It related to whether An Bord Pleanála has the power to conduct an EIA screening exercise under the Planning Act.
The SCCA contended An Bord Pleanála 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.
Mr Justice Woulfe held that the High Court was correct in ruling that An Bord Pleanála has jurisdiction to conduct a screening for EIA in an application made under s.177 AE of the Planning Act.
The judge said it is clear An Bord Pleanála is the competent authority which the Oireachtas designated as responsible for granting approval for applications under the sections. He said it is also clear the Oireachtas intended the board when dealing with an application under s.177AE would consider issues relating to potential environmental impact.