An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland – this week announced that it intends to pursue its case regarding the West Kerry N86 Dingle road to the Court of Appeal.
Environmental groups have come out in support of this decision as the previous judgement could have an impact on other environmental cases
The Environmental Pillar, which is made up of 28 national environmental NGOs, supports the appeal as it presents an opportunity for Ireland to clarify how the requirements of the Aarhus Convention are being upheld in this case.
Under the Aarhus Convention, Irish law is required to provide that proceedings are fair and equitable and special cost requirements apply to environmental cases taken. This point needs to be clarified not just for the case relating to the Dingle road but also for a range of future cases relating to environmental law.
Michael Ewing a spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar:
“An Taisce’s decision is most welcome. This case raises issues of exceptional public importance and presents an opportunity for Ireland to clarify how the Aarhus Convention’s requirements about fairness, equity, effectiveness and special cost requirements apply to court cases in Ireland, and the EU laws implementing them. It is imperative that this is addressed.”
Chairman of An Taisce John Harnett said the impact of the development on the heritage of area was of concern to it. In January, it was granted leave by the High Court for a judicial review of An Bord Pleanala’s decision in November to grant planning permission for the N86 Dingle to Annascaul and Gortbreagoge to Camp Improvement Scheme. An Taisce has said its decision was based on An Bord Pleanala’s “failure to fulfil obligations” under the EU’s Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.
On October 7th Mr Justice Robert Haughton dismissed the legal challenge taken by An Taisce at the High Court. In reaction to this John Harnett commented: “The High Court’s decision in this case raises points of exceptional public importance which go far beyond the matter of the N86 road itself. What is now a central issue in this case is whether Irish court proceedings have to be “fair” and “equitable”. The High Court effectively said “no, they do not” in its judgement, and this simply cannot go unchallenged.” He continued: “We understand that the EU Commission is watching this case very closely, as it concerns Ireland’s compliance with EU and International law. The issues raised in this High Court judgement must be clarified.”
An Taisce require a certificate from the High Court to allow them to appeal. The hearing of that certification application is provisionally scheduled for November 6th.