19 June 2013: An Taisce’s legal challenge to a consent granted by Westmeath County Council for a residential development on the lands of Charlestown Stud was brought to a successful conclusion this morning, when lawyers acting for both sides confirmed to the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Kearns, that the Council had agreed to the quashing of the consent and that the matter was to revert to the Council to make a new decision.
An Taisce was granted leave to Judicially Review the County Council’s decision on May 3rd arguing the Council had failed to notify An Taisce as observers on the planning application of the decision in line with the timeframes stipulated in legislation, and had thus compromised the ability to appeal the Council’s decision to An Bord Pleanála. However, An Taisce had also highlighted that by contrast there was no delay in notifying the applicant who was notified the day after the grant of permission was made.
James Nix, Policy Director of An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland, welcomed the decision commenting:
“An Taisce’s decision to pursue this matter in the courts was based on the importance of upholding the integrity of the planning process, which is supported by legislation which stipulates specific steps and timeframes to allow for fair involvement of concerned parties in the decision making process. There were also multiple issues of concern to us with this application and consent, including that the development in question is adjacent to a proposed Natural Heritage Area. The approach taken by Westmeath County Council in this particular application compromised our ability to appeal the Council’s decision, and in so doing compromised the planning process and breached the legislative requirements underlying it. Our legal action sought to not only over turn this particular consent, but also to uphold the principle and importance of adhering to legislative framework for the planning processes for all other applications, observers and applicants. We do however welcome the decision of Westmeath to concede this matter and avoid costly litigation.
I would also like to thank An Taisce’s staff, volunteers and of course our legal team, Mr. James Devlin, S.C., Mr John Kenny, B.L. and Marilyn McNicholas & Co. Solicitors without whom today’s successful outcome would not have happened.”