The High Court has dismissed a challenge by a local man aimed at overturning permission for a €3.76 billion expansion of Intel Ireland's plant in Co Kildare.
In a written judgement Mr Justice Richard Humphreys said he was satisfied to dismiss all grounds of the action brought by Thomas Reid.
Mr Reid had claimed that the project will expand Intel’s 160-acre campus by 30 acres, take more than four years to construct and involve two years of rock quarrying to get structures to formation level.
At the operational stage, environmental emissions will increase, there was no proper consideration of what is effectively a large-scale quarrying operation and no information before An Bord Pleanála on the entirety of the project, he argued.
Mr Reid won a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2015 preventing the use of compulsory purchase orders for his 29-hectare Hensor House farm, which dates back to the mid-1700s.
His home is located some 500 metres to the west of the site of the proposed development.
Mr Reid’s judicial review challenge over An Bord Pleanala’s November 2019 permission for expansion of Intel’s plant.
In his challenge, Mr Reid claimed the board’s permission was granted contrary to the requirements of various EC Directives and related Irish legislation.
The Directives at issue are the Habitats, Environmental Impact Assessments and Seveso (Control of Major Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances) Directives.
He claimed the Intel manufacturing plant adjoins the Rye River Valley/Carton Special Area of Conservation which has conservation objectives including for bryophytes.
He claimed there is a risk to that site from emissions if not properly mitigated.
His case was against the Board. Intel was a notice party to the action.
In opposing the action, the Board denied the claims, including claims it acted contrary to the Directives.
It said it had considered there was no likelihood the development would have a significant effect on four Dublin Bay European sites.
It was also satisfied, having carried out an Appropriate Assessment, the development would not adversely affect the integrity of the Rye River Valley/ Carton SAC in view of that site's conservation objectives.
It denied it failed to carry out assessments based on the best scientific knowledge in the field.
The case was before Mr Justice Humphreys via a telescoped hearing, involving an application for leave for judicial review and the substantive case being heard together.
Giving the court's decision the judge said that over 20 grounds of objection has been raised in the proceedings, but did not accept that the planning permission was flawed or should be set aside.
However, he said he was dismissing the case "without much enthusiasm". This was because from the court's suspicion that the board didn't fully understand the science behind the developer's proposal.
The "smoking gun" in that regard was the board accepted the developer's material without noticing that there was an error in relation to the critical issue of the limit of ammonia emissions.
A key report concerning air pollution on that specific point was referred to by the board in the name of a different report published some years later, he said.
The board he said had incorrectly submitted that it could not be expected to know the appropriate admission standard itself.
It seemed to be saying that it cannot be expected to be familiar with all of the main relevant scientific material itself or to read or even look at scientifical material put before it by the developer in relation to the planning application.
Clearly the document was not looked at because had the board done so the error would be obvious.
The fact the error was cut and pasted into documents put before the court by the board, wasn't hugely significant , but did not enhance the board's claim that it subjected the developer's materials to the necessary level of in-depth independent scrutiny.
The matter will return before the court at a later date.