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Judgment
Title:
Kelly -v- An Bord Pleanála
Neutral Citation:
[2014] IEHC 422
High Court Record Number:
2013 802 JR
Date of Delivery:
09/18/2014
Court:
High Court
Judgment by:
Finlay Geoghegan J.
Status:
Approved

Neutral Citation: [2014] IEHC 422

THE HIGH COURT
[2013 No. 802 J.R.]




BETWEEN

EAMON (TED) KELLY
APPLICANT
AND

AN BORD PLEANÁLA

RESPONDENT
AND

ROSCOMMON COUNTY COUNCIL, GALETECH ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS LIMITED, SKY VALLEY CONCERNED RESIDENTS GROUP, WIND TURBINE ACTION GROUP SOUTH ROSCOMMON, THE DEPARTMENT OF ARTS, HERITAGE AND THE GAELTACHT, SKY VALLEY WIND COMPANY, THE HERITAGE COUNCIL AND THE COMMISSION FOR ENERGY REGULATION, PAUL DONOHUE, JAMES FRANCIS FALLON, THOMAS BURKE, MARIA DONNELLY, TOM AND FIONA FARRELL, LIAM KILDEA SKY VALLEY CONCERNED RESIDENTS GROUP, THE HERITAGE COUNCIL AND THE COMMISSION FOR ENERGY REGULATION

NOTICE PARTIES

SUPPLEMENTAL JUDGMENT of Ms. Justice Finlay Geoghegan delivered on the 18th day of September 2014

1. This judgment is supplemental to a judgment delivered by me on 25th July 2014 (“the principal judgment”). Parties and defined terms are referred to and used in the same way as in that judgment.

2. In the principal judgment, I determined that the applicant was entitled to orders of certiorari of each of the challenged decisions set out in para. 1 of the judgment. Each decision is a decision of the Board to grant permission for a development of wind turbines in County Roscommon.

3. On 28th July 2014, there was a further short hearing relating to the precise form of the order to be made and the question of costs.

4. The only application for costs was an order in favour of the applicant against the Board to include all reserved and discovery costs, such costs to be taxed in default of agreement. I determined the applicant was entitled to such an order.

5. Galetech sought, in addition to the orders of certiorari indicated in the judgment orders, pursuant to O. 84, r. 27(4) of the Rules of the Superior Courts, remitting each appeal to the Board for determination in accordance with law.

6. The other parties represented did not oppose an order remitting each appeal to the Board for determination in accordance with law. However, the Department, supported by the applicant, submitted that the Court should give further directions as part of any order for remittal in accordance with the judgment of Clarke J. in the High Court in Christian v. Dublin City Council (No. 2) [2012] IEHC 309. It was submitted that the Board should give additional directions in order to avoid the risk of a further judicial review application. Reference was made to the approach taken by Kelly J. in Usk and District Residents Association v. An Bord Pleanála [2007] IEHC 86. In that judgment, Kelly J., having quashed a decision of An Bord Pleanála and agreeing to remit the matter to the Board, did not give directions, but rather, made recommendations to the Board as to certain procedures to be followed in taking the further decision. The Board did not follow the recommendations set out in the judgment and the further procedure adopted by the Board gave rise to a further application for judicial review, and ultimately, an order of certiorari quashing the subsequent decision (Usk and District Residents Association v. An Bord Pleanála, MacMenamin J. [2009] IEHC 346).

7. Counsel for the Board did not dispute the jurisdiction of the Court to give directions in an order remitting the appeals to the Board for determination but submitted that the procedure to be followed should be left to the Board in accordance with its statutory powers. Similarly, Galetech did not dispute the jurisdiction of the Court to give directions, and suggested that the Court should now give liberty to apply in the event that there were any dispute subsequent to the remittal as to the procedure to be followed.

8. In the course of this hearing, I indicated that it would not be appropriate to give liberty to apply as submitted by Galetech. In the event that there were to be any future dispute between the parties, that would be a new and fresh dispute requiring separate proceedings. The order now to be made by the Court, pursuant to the judgment of 25th July 2014, must be the final order in these proceedings.

9. In the course of the hearing on 28th July 2014, the Board, through its counsel, also indicated that it was seeking a stay on any order of certiorari and order for remittal that might be made on that day so as to enable it consider, with the benefit of legal advice, whether it wished to apply for a certificate pursuant to s. 50A(7) of the PDA to permit it appeal.

10. At the end of the hearing on 28th July 2014, I decided that no orders would be drawn on that day and that the matter would be put in for mention before the Court on 1st September 2014 for the purpose, primarily, of the Board informing the Court whether it wished to make an application pursuant to s. 50A(7) of the PDA. I also indicated that if the Board wished to set out before the Court the procedure it proposed following, that it could do so. Counsel, on its behalf, indicated that it was improbable that it would do so as it could only consider what was required to be done after the order quashing its decisions and remitting the matter to it had been made by the Court.

11. On 1st September 2014, counsel for the Board informed the Court that it had decided not to make an application for a certificate pursuant to s. 50A(7) of the PDA and was not making any further submissions to the Court. I indicated that I would issue a short decision on the precise form of the order which the Court would make pursuant to the principal judgment and having regard to the application for the order for remittal and directions and the submissions made on 28th July 2014 to the Court.

12. Order 84, r. 27(4) of the Rules of the Superior Courts provides:

      “Where the relief sought is certiorari and the Court is satisfied that there are grounds for quashing the decision to which the application relates, the Court may, in addition to quashing it, remit the matter to the Court, Tribunal or authority concerned with a direction to reconsider it and reach a decision in accordance with the findings of the Court.”
13. It is not in dispute that the discretion of the Court to remit, in accordance with the above rule, is a wide discretion, as observed by Kelly J. in Usk and District Residents Association v. An Bord Pleanála. No party objects to the Court remitting the matter to the Board following the principal judgment. The facts are such that it is just in the interests of all the parties concerned that the two appeals in question be remitted to the Board for reconsideration and determination, in accordance with principal judgment.

14. The issue in dispute between the parties is whether the Court should, in addition to giving such a general direction, give additional directions as to any part of the procedure by which the Board should now reconsider and determine the appeals.

15. In Christian v. Dublin City Council, Clarke J., in the High Court in a supplemental judgment [2012] IEHC 209, stated at para. 4.17:

      “4.17 It seems to me that where a matter is referred back to a decision-maker, the inherent jurisdiction of the court entitles the court to give directions as to the process to be followed by that decision-maker in reconsidering the matter. However, the court should, in giving such directions, attempt to replicate, insofar as it may be practicable, the legal requirements that would apply, whether under statute, rules or the like, to the making of decisions of that type. It will not always be possible to ensure exact compliance with the relevant regime, for it is in the nature of a decision having already been made and having been subsequently quashed, that some variation on the normal procedure may be necessitated . . .”
16. I would respectfully agree that the Court has such an inherent jurisdiction, but accept that it should also exercise restraint in doing so, and in particular, be careful not to unnecessarily interfere with a discretion conferred by statute or otherwise on the decision making authority. The necessity to give directions will depend upon the issues in dispute between the parties and the grounds upon which the orders of certiorari were made, and the extent to which there is any lack of clarity as to the procedure which may be followed following the order of the Court remitting the matter to the decision making authority.

17. The primary direction sought by the Department and the applicant is a direction that all parties be given an opportunity to make one further round of submissions in each of the appeals prior to the Board reaching its new decision. The applicant also sought a direction that in the event that the Board sought any further information from any party, that it would be given an opportunity of submitting observations or comments on same.

18. The Department also drew attention to the fact that the Board, in the quashed decision on Phase 2, appeared to take into account further information requested in the appeal procedure in Phase 1, and submitted that, as a matter of fair procedures, the parties should be entitled to make further submissions in both sets of appeals.

19. The primary objections to the Court giving any detailed direction as part of the order for remittal are the wide powers given to the Board in Chapter III of the PDA in relation to the conduct of appeals. It was submitted that the Court should not interfere with the discretion given to the Board as to how it should determine an appeal, even after an order quashing its initial decision and remitting same for further consideration and determination by the Board. In particular, reliance was placed on the powers of the Board under ss. 131 and 137 of the PDA.

Conclusion
20. The decisions which were the subject matter of the principal judgment are the final decisions taken by the Board in each of the two appeals referenced at para. 1 of the principal judgment. Whilst they have been termed decisions to grant planning permission, which was the ultimate decision taken, those decisions include also a purported appropriate assessment conducted by the Board, a purported determination in each appropriate assessment and the reason for that determination. As appears from the principal judgment, the main ground upon which the Court determined that orders of certiorari should be granted was that the Board failed to conduct, in each appeal, an appropriate assessment which met the requirements of Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive, as explained by the CJEU; further, that the determination made by the Board in each appeal that the proposed development, individually or in combination with other plans or projects, would not adversely affect the integrity of any European site in view of the conservation of those sites, was not lawful as it was not made as part of an appropriate assessment lawfully conducted, and in the absence of such a lawful determination, the Board did not have jurisdiction to grant planning permission for the proposed development. The Court also concluded that the Board failed to give reasons for its determination in the appropriate assessment which met the requirements of law.

21. It follows from the principal judgment that the orders of certiorari are of the entire decisions made by the Board in each of the appeals on 9th September 2013 and 13th September 2013, respectively including the purported determinations in each purported appropriate assessment.

22. Further, it follows from the judgment, that following the remittal the Board is now required to conduct, in advance of making any planning decision, an appropriate assessment in each appeal in accordance with the law, reach a determination therein and give reasons therefore as set out in the principal judgment.

23. On those facts, it is not clear the precise point reached in the statutory scheme of the PDA following the proposed remittal by the High Court. I recognise that the Board may wish to be in a position to consider whether it wishes to exercise the discretion given it, in particular, by ss. 131 and 137 of the PDA and seek further information or submissions and appears entitled to do so. In those circumstances, it does not appear to me that the directions which I might now give should be prescriptive as to the precise procedure to be followed by the Board.

24. Nevertheless, I have also concluded that following an order remitting the matter to the Board for the purpose of, inter alia, conducting a lawful appropriate assessment, that all parties to the appeal should, as a matter of fair procedures, be entitled, at minimum, to make a further submission to the Board prior to its conducting the appropriate assessment now required, and reaching its determination and decision. Accordingly, I propose, in the order for remission, giving a direction that:

      the Board should, at minimum, invite all parties to each appeal to make a further submission prior to conducting the appropriate assessment pursuant to Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive and determining the appeal.
This is only intended as a minimum prescription. It should remain a matter for the Board to decide whether they wish to obtain further information or submissions in accordance with their statutory powers.

25. The other relevant matter which was in dispute between the parties in these proceedings was whether or not the Board had taken into account certain additional information by way of a bird survey furnished to the Board in the Phase 1 appeal in the Phase 2 appeal. It is undesirable and risks giving rise to future proceedings if there is uncertainty as to what matters are proposed to be taken into account by the Board in determining each appeal. Accordingly, I propose giving one further direction in the order remitting the appeals to the Board, namely:

      in the event that the Board seeks further information in either appeal, it shall make clear whether the requested information is to be considered by it in that appeal only, or in the two appeals, and give any appropriate notice required by the Planning and Development Act 2000.

Relief
26. The substantive terms of the order to be made pursuant to the principal judgment and this judgment is:
      (i) An order of certiorari of the determination and decisions of An Bord Pleanála made on 9th September 2013 in appeal reference PL20.239759 Planning Register Ref. 10/541.

      (ii) An order of certiorari of the determination and decisions of An Bord Pleanála made on 13th September 2013 in appeal reference PL20.241069 Planning Register Ref. 11/273.

      (iii) An order remitting each of the said appeals to An Bord Pleanála with a direction that it carry out an appropriate assessment which meets the requirements of Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive and reach a determination therein and give reasons therfor in accordance with the judgment delivered by the High Court on 25th July 2014.

      (iv) A direction that the Board should, at minimum, invite all parties to each appeal to make a further submission prior to conducting the appropriate assessment pursuant to Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive and determining the appeal.

      (v) A direction that in the event that the Board seeks further information in either appeal, it shall make clear whether the requested information is to be considered by it in that appeal only, or in the two appeals, and give any appropriate notice required by the Planning and Development Act 2000.











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