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Putting windfarms to the sword

Readers may remember Pat Sword's challenge to the legality of the Irish government's green energy policies on the grounds that the public consultation required under the Aarhus Convention had not taken place.
Pat emails with an update
I was as a lay litigant in Monday in the Irish High Court at the request for leave stage for a Judicial Review of the National Renewable Energy Action Plan and the REFIT funding scheme, in which the relief sought was for (a) an Order of Certiorari (a Judicial Review); (b) a Declaration that it was unlawful to grant planning permissions and award funding without [corrected 1.50pm BH]  the proper public participation in decision-making, namely the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Article 7 of the Convention and; (c) a protective cost order. I explained to the judge in the morning that there was a window of opportunity to lodge an application for a Judicial Review of the Irish National Renewable Energy Action Plan and REFIT funding scheme within three months of the UNECE decision, which so far the Department has ignored. He was very interested, asked me what my interest was in the matter - I explained the major financial costs of the programme, the resulting soaring energy prices and how it would have a very negative effect on inward industrial development, on which I made my livelihood. He was happy with that and requested he be provided with a chance to read the documentation over lunch and that he would see me first thing at 2 O'Clock.
Then Justice Peart read the documentation over his lunch break and came out in the afternoon actually 'singing praise' for their content and the way they were presented. He explained that he had read them all, found them comprehensive and to the point, they had addressed significant points of law, to which leave would need to be granted in a Judicial Review. I now have leave to proceed further with the application for the Judicial Review in relation to the reliefs sought in paragraph (d) of the application, i.e. the three above. The Court date is set for the further hearing on the 15th January. The initial application was ex-parte as per Order 84 of the High Court, so I have since prepared the Notice of Motion and served it and the Court Order on the State Solicitor's office.
He also raised the issue as what I considered by way of protective cost order, pointing out that under Section 50B of the planning acts he has the discretion to award costs. I pointed out that I was referring to Article 9(3) of the Convention and not prohibitively expensive. He immediately agreed with this point and that there was an imminent ruling in the European Court on 'not prohibitively', looking at me and asking to confirm that I knew about this, as I seemed to be so knowledgeable on the subject. I confirmed that I knew and that it would be unrealistic for me to be able to fund this upfront. He was then clear that on the 15th January he would also be dealing with the issue of 'not prohibitively' as per Article 9 (3) of the Convention.
It appears that such a situation has not happened before in Irish law!

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  • Response
    yeah, just thought you might want to know that your blog is out of wack when I watch it on my iphone. Im not sure if it has something to do with my phones browser or your website? just saying

Reader Comments (13)

Great news! Keep it up Pat.
Hoist the EU on its own legal petard.
Banish windmills to the 18th century where they belong.

Nov 18, 2012 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

"unlawful to grant planning permissions and award funding with the proper public participation"

Shouldn't that be 'without'..?

Brilliant work, though. Nice to have an unbiased judge, too (cf. David Marks at the BBC tribunal).

Nov 18, 2012 at 1:29 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp


You are correct, 'without' is what I meant to write. [corrected now. BH]


Nov 18, 2012 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

An American friend of mine, when things were going well, was prone to exclaim, very loudly: 'F*ckin' A!!!' I never quite understood the context of it nor what it could possibly mean.

I do now. Brilliant work Mr Sword!

Nov 18, 2012 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Good stuff. There is momentum building for big energy policy makeover. The banishing of IPCC from the COP 18 climate summit is a good sign too.

Nov 18, 2012 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRog Tallbloke

May the pen of Pat Swords prove mightier than the stratagems of all who will seek to deflect this great initiative of his.

Nov 18, 2012 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Good stuff. There is momentum building for big energy policy makeover. The banishing of IPCC from the COP 18 climate summit is a good sign too.

Nov 18, 2012 at 2:03 PM | Rog Tallbloke

Don't be premature with this Roger. There could be many reason why the IPCC in it's committe form has not been invited and none of is good.

Nov 18, 2012 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Stephen Richards: "There could be many reason why the IPCC in it's committe form has not been invited and none of is good."

Good point, I wouldn't be surprised if it suddenly gets re-branded as the "International Panel for Climate Justice".

Nov 18, 2012 at 9:02 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian
Nov 19, 2012 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered Commentermalcolm

Big respect, Mr Swords - a classic case of David and Goliath. Keep it up - and keep us posted..!

Chaps - is there an equivalent piece of legislation which we can use in the UK..?

('I love the smell of napalm in the morning...')

Nov 19, 2012 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid


I dread to think how bad a time you are giving those folks hehe, big grrrrrrrrrrrrrats

Nov 19, 2012 at 9:07 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Of course this is Ireland and Irish law, not English, but one immediately begins to understand why Mr. Cameron is so keen to make it almost impossible to use the Judicial Review process against "significant infrastructure projects" (Read "Wind Farms") in England.

Not that it wasn't obvious as soon as he opened his mouth.

Nov 20, 2012 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Duffin

This type of a re-positioning and flipping between different meanings of concepts is quite common in the climate debate. Give it a few years and we sceptics will comfortably be back to being the idiots again.

Dec 22, 2013 at 7:39 PM | Registered Commentershub

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