Path to Extinction: Giant Wind & Solar Farms Destroying Habitat & Threatening Endangered Species

Originally posted on STOP THESE THINGS: Mike Moore’s Planet of The Humans revealed the wholesale environmental destruction caused by wind and solar; …

Path to Extinction: Giant Wind & Solar Farms Destroying Habitat & Threatening Endangered Species
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Michael Shellenberger: Sorry, But I Cried Wolf on Climate Change

Originally posted on STOP THESE THINGS: If climate change is a problem, then wind turbines and solar panels aren’t a solution: heavily subsidised and…

Michael Shellenberger: Sorry, But I Cried Wolf on Climate Change
Posted in EirGrid; Insurance; Law; Cancer; EMF | Leave a comment

Adios to Substituted Consent. At last.

Peter Sweetman

Peter Sweetman

What is substituted consent?

Substituted consent is a form of retention permission, whereby a person can obtain planning permission for a building or development  after that building has already been erected. It has a long and colourful history in Irish law, having first been officially introduced by Section 27 of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act of 1963.

In essence it is retrospective planning permission, granted by An Bord Pleanala (ABP), in instances where a valid environmental impact statement (EIS) should have been carried out, but was not.

What made it very attractive for developers was that it could be obtained without many of the usual prerequisites of a planning permission application, namely the lodging of a valid EIS, and perhaps more importantly, without the usual period of public notice and consultation. This allowed many unscrupulous developers to start up businesses illegally (quarries seem to be the favourite) and then apply for planning permission as an afterthought, usually after the damage to the environment had occurred.

The relevant legislation is Part XA of the Planning and Development Act of 2000 (“the 2000 Act”), which was added to the Act in 2010 by an amendment Act. This amendment was an effort to appease the European Court, which found against Ireland in 2006 because the relatively easy manner in which retention planning could be obtained in this country was inconsistent with the European Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive.

The amendment Act was clearly a rush job, as it is a sloppy piece of drafting.

The (most) important section introduced by the amendment Act is Section 177 of the 2000 Act, which consists of a whopping seventeen subsections (Sections 177A-177Q).

The applicant for substituted consent must still jump through a few hoops. For the purposes of this piece, one of the hoops that needs to be navigated is that the applicant must apply to ABP for permission to apply, which is known as applying for leave to apply. This is governed by Section 177D of the Act:

(1)             The Board shall only grant leave to apply for substitute consent in respect of an application under section 177C where it is satisfied that an environmental impact assessment, a determination as to whether an environmental impact assessment is required, or an appropriate assessment, was or is required in respect of the development concerned and where it is further satisfied—

(a)             that a permission granted for development by a planning authority or the Board is in breach of law, invalid or otherwise defective in a material respect whether by reason of a final judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction in the State or the Court of Justice of the European Union, or otherwise, by reason of—

(i)              any matter contained in or omitted from the application for the permission including omission of an environmental impact statement or a Natura impact statement or both of those statements as the case may be, or inadequacy of an environmental impact statement or a Natura impact statement or both of those statements, as the case may be, or

(ii)             any error of fact or law or procedural error,

or

(b)             that exceptional circumstances exist such that the Board considers it appropriate to permit the opportunity for regularisation of the development by permitting an application for substitute consent.

(2)             In considering whether exceptional circumstances exist the Board shall have regard to the following matters:

(a)             whether regularisation of the development concerned would circumvent the purpose and objectives of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive or the Habitats Directive;

(b)             whether the applicant had or could reasonably have had a belief that the development was not unauthorised;

(c)              whether the ability to carry out an assessment of the environmental impacts of the development for the purpose of an environmental impact assessment or an appropriate assessment and to provide for public participation in such an assessment has been substantially impaired;

(d)             the actual or likely significant effects on the environment or adverse effects on the integrity of a European site resulting from the carrying out or continuation of the development;

(e)             the extent to which significant effects on the environment or adverse effects on the integrity of a European site can be remediated;

(f)              whether the applicant has complied with previous planning permissions granted or has previously carried out an unauthorised development;

(g)             such other matters as the Board considers relevant.

(3)             In deciding whether it is prepared to grant leave to apply for substitute consent under this section the Board shall have regard to any information furnished by the applicant under section 177C(3) and any information furnished by the planning authority under section 177C(5).

(4)             The Board shall decide whether to grant leave to apply for substitute consent or to refuse to grant such leave.

(5)             The decision of the Board under subsection (4) shall be made—

(a)             6 weeks after the receipt of an application under section 177C(1),

(b)             6 weeks after receipt of additional information from the applicant under section 177C(3)(b), or

(c)              6 weeks after receipt of information from the planning authority under section 177C(5),

whichever is the later.

(6)             The Board shall give notice in writing to the applicant of its decision on the application for leave to apply for substitute consent and of the reasons therefor.

(7)             Where the Board decides to grant leave to apply for substitute consent, the notice under subsection (6) shall also contain a direction—

(a)             to apply for substitute consent not later than 12 weeks after the giving of the notice, and

(b)             to furnish with the application a remedial environmental impact statement or a remedial Natura impact statement, or both of those statements as the Board considers appropriate.

(8)             The Board shall give a copy of the notice of its decision under subsection (6) and direction under subsection (7) to the planning authority for the administrative area in which the development the subject of the application for leave to apply for substitute consent is situated and details of the decision and direction shall be entered by the authority in the register.

As with many applications, it is the leave to apply that is the main battleground, as the authority concerned has to consider essentially the very things that they will be called on to deliberate when considering the application itself. In other words, if one is granted leave to apply, there is a good chance that the ultimate permission (in this case substituted consent) will be granted.

All this has dramatically changed with the decision of the Supreme Court in An Taisce/Peter Sweetman v An Bord Pleanala. Paragraph numbers refer to the paragraphs of the original judgment: 01.07.2020-An-Taisce-v.-An-Bord-Pleanála-Peter-Sweetman-v.-An-Bord-Pleanála.

The judgment of the Supreme Court

The parties

On the one side were the Applicants, An Taisce and Mr. Peter Sweetman, and on the other side was the ABP with the owner of one of the quarries in question, Ms. Sharon Browne, as Notice Party (not a litigant per se, but with a recognised interest in the outcome).

The Facts

For the purpose of the Supreme Court hearing, three appeals were heard together, as they all concerned quarries applying for substituted consent in similar circumstances, with two of the appeals concerning the same quarry and the same decision by the ABP.

The first matter before the Supreme Court was the appeal by An Taisce against the decision of the ABP to grant substitute consent in 2014 to J McQuaid Quarries Ltd for a quarry at Lemgare, Co Monaghan.

A second and third appeal by An Taisce and Mr. Sweetman respectively was against the decision of the ABP to refuse to accept written submissions from them opposing Sharon Browne’s application for leave to apply for substitute consent for a quarry at Ballysax, The Curragh, Co Kildare. Ms. Brown was the owner and operator of the quarry.

The ABP had ruled that it could not lawfully accept the submissions from An Taisce and Mr. Sweetman because there was no provision in the Act allowing this. While members of the public could make submissions at the ‘substantive stage’ of the process (once leave to apply had been granted), there was no provision in the Act which allowed public submissions at the leave stage of the substitute consent process, (which is when the real battle is fought).

The Issue to be decided

Was the current Irish legislation consistent with the demands of the European Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (and the many rulings of the European Court when interpreting and applying that Directive)?

The Finding

McKechnie J. said these appeals raised important issues of EU law, including whether the State’s response was adequate in upholding the requirements of the EIA directive.

He found that the substitute consent provisions do not sufficiently implement the EIA directive in light of various decisions of the CJEU.

“When the Court of Justice refers to retrospective regularisation as having to remain the exception, its justification is that otherwise developers may be incentivised to ignore or disregard the requirements of a prior consent/EIA:  in other words, national measures cannot act as an inducement to avoid EIA compliance (para. 74 above).  Therefore, such regularisation must remain the exception, rather than rule.  Consequently, the relevant provisions of domestic law cannot permit, allow or facilitate a situation whereby the obtaining of, as in this jurisdiction, a retention permission becomes common, normal or general.  Given this approach, how therefore does s. 177C(2)(a) meet the exceptionality requirement? “

  It is instructive now to look at what an applicant must assert and what the Board must be satisfied of on any application for leave under C(2)(b) and D(1)(b) of section 177.  When considering whether exceptional circumstances exist, under this pathway, the matters identified in subpara (2) must be taken into account:-

(i)           would the grant of retention permission circumvent the objectives of the Directive,

(ii)          could the developer have had a bona fide belief that the development was not unauthorised,

(iii)         would the existing circumstances permit the conducting of an effective assessment of the environmental impact of the development from its commencement,

(iv)         can any significant effects on the environment, occurring to date, be remedied, and

(v)          what in the past has been the developer’s attitude to planning compliance.

In addition, the Board may take into account any other matter it considers relevant.

It is striking now to compare the matters which I have listed with the essential elements of an application under s. 177C(2)(a). The core constituents of that section are as follows:

(i)           the completed development, in respect of which an EIA “was or is” required has been the subject matter of a permission,

(ii)          that permission may be invalid or otherwise defective in a “material respect”,

(iii)         as so determined by the Court of Justice or domestic court “or otherwise”,

(iv)         by reason of the “omission” to carry out an EIS or its “inadequacy” or,

(v)          by reason of “any error of fact or law or a procedural error” (emphasis added)

It is not readily apparent how these points, considered either individually or collectively, could be fairly described as being exceptional.  The development in question required an EIA:  the permission obtained is in a material respect in breach of law, invalid or “otherwise defective”, as so found by a judgment of the Court of Justice or a court in this jurisdiction by reason of the absence of a required EIA, or the inadequacy of same or as a result of “any error of fact or law or a procedural error”.  These factors, in the context under discussion, can only be considered quite general and quite broad.”

(Paragraphs 87-91)(my emphasis)

The judge went on to say that, to make matters worse, once leave to apply for substitute consent has been given, the exceptionality test (or rather the ‘general and quite broad test”) “forms no part” of the decision on the substantive application for substitute consent.

As previously mentioned, it is really at the application for leave to apply that the battle is lost and won, as it is here that the “exceptionality” test, whatever that means, must be passed. Accordingly, it is here that the public should be able to make submissions arguing that the applicant has not met that (not very onerous) substantive threshold. This public participation at the leave to apply stage becomes even more important when one considers that the substantive stage (the actual application) is not as onerous as the leave stage.

These findings confirm my criticisms of this process that I made over four years ago. I would say that the judge was quite generous in his use of the words “general” and “broad”. A number of stronger adjectives spring to mind when reading  Section 177D(2)(a)-(g).

With respect to the second complaint of both An Taisce and Mr Sweetman, namely ABP’s refusal to accept their written submissions at the application for leave stage, the judge considered the scope and meaning of the public right to participate under the directive.

Again, this is an important aspect of our law that the government and the planning authorities consistently try to play down and restrict. The judge was having none of that here and held that the exclusion in domestic law of public participation at the stage of seeking leave to apply for substitute consent is inconsistent with the public participation rights conferred by the Directive.

“The evident legislative intention as expressed in the Act is to the effect that the leave stage is intended to be carried out without a general right of public input. As such, I agree with the respondents that what is intended at the application for leave stage is what has been referred to in these proceedings as a “closed” process.” (Paragraph 109).

“In this regard, the following recitals to the EIA Directive should be noted:

“(16) Effective public participation in the taking of decisions enables the public to express, and the decision-maker to take account of, opinions and concerns which may be relevant to those decisions, thereby increasing the accountability and transparency of the decision-making process and contributing to public awareness of environmental issues and support for the decisions taken.

(17) Participation, including participation by associations, organisations and groups, in particular non-governmental organisations promoting environmental protection, should accordingly be fostered, including, inter alia, by promoting environmental education of the public.

(19) Among the objectives of the Aarhus Convention is the desire to guarantee rights of public participation in decision-making in environmental matters in order to contribute to the protection of the right to live in an environment which is adequate for personal health and well-being.

(20) Article 6 of the Aarhus Convention provides for public participation in decisions on the specific activities listed in Annex I thereto and on activities not so listed which may have a significant effect on the environment.

(21) Article 9(2) and (4) of the Aarhus Convention provides for access to judicial or other procedures for challenging the substantive or procedural legality of decisions, acts or omissions subject to the public participation provisions of Article 6 of that Convention.”

(Paragraph 118)

Accordingly, the judge held that the clear intent of the Oireachtas was to make the leave for application stage a ‘closed’ stage. This exclusion of the public was contrary to the provisions of the EIA Directive and the Aarhus Convention.

Well done indeed to Peter Sweetman and An Taisce in pursuing this fight. It has taken a long time, with numerous obstacles put in their path, both political and legal, but in the end their tenacity and bravery won the day. Respect!

Let this be an end to the secret shenanigans that always seemed to haunt applications for substituted consent. We can only hope that this judgment finally closes a particularly shameful chapter of Irish planning law history.

Posted in An Bord Pleanala; appeal; interested parties, EIA Directive 2014/52/EU, Freedom of Information; Access to Environmental Information; AIE; Commissioner for Environmental Information, Green Party; Ireland; Eamonn Ryan; Cormac Manning, judicial review; Wednesbury Test; O'Keeffe; rationality; Separation of Powers, Kilvinane Wind Farm Ltd; substituted consent, NREAP; National Renewable Energy Action Plan; EU Commission; Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee; ACCC, Peremptory law; Directory Law; Planning and Devlopment Act of 2000, Planning and Development Act 2000; guidelines; directives; Sections 28 & 29, Planning Permission; Extension; Planning and Development Act, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters; Aarhus Convention; Aarhus Treaty, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA); Grid 25; North-South Interconnector | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

What do we mean by “Conflict of Interest”?

EU commissioner lobbied by energy firm he owns shares in

  • Johannes Hahn is the European Commissioner for budget and administration. He also owns 2,200 shares in Austria’s largest electricity-provider (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

 

 

EU budget commissioner Johannes Hahn owns 2,200 shares in Austria’s largest electricity-provider Verbund AG whilst actively being lobbied by the firm.

Hahn has had those shares since 2014, when he first became enlargement commissioner under Jean-Claude Juncker. They have since more than tripled in value, going from €32,813 in 2014 to €113,190 as of the end of last year.

In January, his head of cabinet met with Verbund AG shortly after the European Commission had unveiled its European Green Deal to go carbon-neutral by 2050.

Verbund AG spends up to €400,000 lobbying Brussels and had received a €2m research grant from the European Commission. Its interest include energy and financial market legislation.

A few days later his cabinet met with the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers and then Eurogas. Both have a history of trying to weaken climate policy.

Hahn had also doubled the value of his shares in the Austrian real estate firm CA Immobilien Anlagen over the same period of time, among a handful of other companies he has a direct financial interest in.

 

‘Procedures followed’

Asked directly if Hahn had sold off his shares since taking his new office in December, a spokesperson from the European Commission talked about procedures, in a somewhat obfuscated response.

“What I can tell you is that the parliamentary process, which led to the appointment of this commission – which involves scrutiny over ethical rules in relation into each individual commissioner – has looked carefully at their situation,” she said on Wednesday (12 February).

The issue has already been raised earlier this week by left-leaning MEPs Daniel Freund and Manon Aubry who demanded the European Commission publish updated declarations of financial interests for all the commissioners.

Freund, who previously worked at Transparency International, an NGO, had accused the commission of breaching its own code of conduct rules.

Those rules require the European Commission to update declarations of financial interests every year on 1 January.

“This is particularly problematic because promises were made during the Commissioner’s hearings, like selling of company shares. This must be corrected quickly,” said Freund, in an emailed statement.

He noted that commissioner candidates Elisa Ferreira and Stella Kyriakides only got the green light from the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee to advance in their hearings after they claimed to have sold their shares. The same committee had demanded that Hahn do the same.

 

For its part, the commission claims it has done nothing wrong.

It says commissioners are indeed required to submit their updated declarations at the start of January. It says they are then screened, under the authority of European commission president Von der Leyen.

“In the present case, they are expected to be published in February,” said another commission spokesperson, in an email.

Hahn is not alone in owning shares in major corporations. Italy’s economy commissioner Paolo Gentiloni owns shares in Amazon, Campari, Expedia, among others.

 

Posted in EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, lobbying; democracy; political process; general election | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh, what a lovely scam!

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This is a very interesting piece from National Wind Watch which in turn was gleaned from an article in the Sunday Times. Considering the number of new applications for wind farms happening all over the country, I wonder how similar the situation is in Ireland and how much the consumer has to pay to essentially stop wind farms from operating?

 

Turbines spread amid £127m bill

Credit:  Scottish wind farms are the main beneficiary of compensation as the network is unable to cope with the power produced | Mark Macaskill | The Sunday Times | December 29 2019 | www.thetimes.co.uk | [text provided by 3rd party source] ~~

 

Scottish ministers have been accused of an “irresponsible” dash for green energy as new data reveals that wind farms have expanded while being paid record sums of money to power down turbines.

This year, the operators of 86 wind farms across Britain were handed more than £136m in constraint payments to reduce output and discard surplus energy, a new annual record and £12m more than was paid in 2018.

Most of the compensation (£127m) was paid to Scottish onshore wind farms, including several that have either extended in recent years – with the Scottish government’s approval – or are seeking permission to do so.

The disclosure has prompted disquiet among opposition politicians and environmentalists who said compensation payouts should be a key consideration in whether to allow wind farms to be built or extended.

Energy firms are compensated for turning off turbines when the network is unable to cope with the power they produce. Such constraint payments are paid out by the National Grid but ultimately charged to consumers and added to electricity bills.

Analysis carried out by the Renewable Energy Foundation, a charity that monitors Britain’s energy use, shows that in 2019, six onshore Scottish wind farms received about 50% of the £127m bonanza. They include Fallago Rig in Berwickshire, which received £7.8m in constraints this year, yet is seeking an extension to add a further 12 turbines.

The Clyde wind farm was completed in 2009 but permission to extend the site with an additional 74 turbines was granted in 2014 and completed in 2017. Its operators, which includes the energy giant SSE, received almost £15m in compensation this year.

The big six also includes the 96- turbine Kilgallioch wind farm in South Ayrshire, which was extended in 2017. Its owners, Scottish Power Renewables, is seeking to extend the site by up to 11 turbines.

Whitelee, Europe’s largest wind farm, opened in 2007 and added a further 75 turbines five years later. Since 2013, it has received £106.5m in constraint payments, including £12m this year.

The Stronelairg wind farm near Fort Augustus went live a year ago and received more than £11m in constraint payments this year. Critics have questioned the wisdom of proposals to build two neighbouring wind farms.

“The probability of constraint payments is not given any significant weight in the planning system when considering applications for new or extended wind farms, with the result that the Scottish government is needlessly, and some will feel irresponsibly, contributing to the constraint problem and to UK consumer bills,” observed Helen McDade, the Renewable Energy Foundation’s Scottish policy adviser.

Alexander Burnett, the Scottish Conservative energy spokesman, said: “The fact that the SNP are still allowing windfarms to expand despite this staggeringly high level of constraint payments already in operation is astonishing. Indeed, this absurd situation simply demonstrates the foolishness of the SNP’s renewable energy policy.”

Since 2010, when constraint payments were introduced, more than £600m has been paid to Scottish wind farm owners. Because of a rapid growth in onshore wind, payments have increased steadily, in spite of grid reinforcements and upgrades such as the £1bn Western Link between Hunterston and Deeside, which was built to export Scottish power. The foundation claims that some wind farms lie behind grid bottlenecks, yet are given ministerial approval for upgrades to generate more power. The charity points to increases in turbine heights at the extension to the Gordonbush wind farm, near Brora in Sutherland. The original wind farm has been paid more than £16m to reduce output since it was commissioned in 2012.

Paul Wheelhouse, the energy minister, said constraint payments will fall as investment in the grid increases. “Adding more demand load onto the grid, as we electrify Scotland’s own transport and heating systems, will also reduce the need for constraint payments. The importance of continued grid investment to facilitate transmission cannot be overstated and this need featured in our Networks Vision Statement which we published earlier this year.”

 

Source:  Scottish wind farms are the main beneficiary of compensation as the network is unable to cope with the power produced | Mark Macaskill | The Sunday Times | December 29 2019 | www.thetimes.co.uk | [text provided by 3rd party source]
Posted in EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, Planning Permission; Extension; Planning and Development Act, Wind Farm Guidelines, turbines, flicker, noise, distance, Denis Naughten | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A time for Family

Family Fun

As we enter this festive season of which the primary focus should be family, I paused to consider the destructive impact that renewable energy legislation has had on so many families in this country, particularly those families living in the rural areas, or at least outside the city limits.

 

I deliberately withdrew from the fight against wind farms a while ago as, apart from the tiresome hate-mail, the struggle had become all-consuming to the exclusion of everything else. The biggest sufferers were my family, who just never saw me, a sad state of affairs. This is the perplexing irony, your struggle to protect those you love means never seeing them.

 

On the other hand, I was lucky to make friends with some lovely people. Kieran, Pauline, Sean, Samantha, Graham, Kath, Paddy, Gemma, Midi, Shawny, Gianni, Michael, Dave, Pat, the list goes on, and I do miss their company, and keep telling myself to get in touch, but something always comes up. Sorry guys, the social failings of an introvert! I salute you for carrying on the fight, and we really must have an end-of-year drink.

 

The destructive impact on the lives of families of people actively engaged in the struggle not only has this social element, it has a legal element as well.

Could it be argued that laws which force citizens to spend all their family- time fighting them, usually to protect their family and their homes, are unconstitutional for that reason alone ?

 

 

ARTICLE 40

3 1° The State guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen.

2° The State shall, in particular, by its laws protect as best it may from unjust attack and, in the case of injustice done, vindicate the life, person, good name, and property rights of every citizen.

 

The government will of course rely on the ‘as far as is practicable” clause and argue that it is doing its best not to harm citizens, but will plead justification along the lines of “if you wanna make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs”.

 

This argument might be worthy of some consideration if the public were fully consulted about suggested legislation and their reactions actually considered and allowed to affect outcomes. It does not hold water on the back of ambush planning applications, ‘consultations’ with bouncers at the door, and ‘call-in’ offices hidden at the end of a cul-de-sac in a one-horse hamlet, invisible even to SatNav.

 

The argument is now entirely discredited with the government seeking to pass new planning legislation which effectively ousts public participation.

 

“Without the ability to criticize unjust laws in powerful symbolic ways, we can’t change them. And the point of a democracy is that people should be able to convince other people to change a law.”

Marvin Ammori

 

 

ARTICLE 41

1 1° The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law.

2° The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State.

 

The government will also argue that citizens do not have to go out and protest an unjust law, and therefore these are acts of voluntary self-sacrifice and cannot be laid at the door of the government. This argument might hold water if the protest was about the sugar tax on fizzy drinks as I was pissed-off that my rum-and-coke is more expensive. The argument does not hold muster regarding protests against, for example, the windfarm distance guidelines (the Minister still does not have the cojones to make Regulations, which can be enforced), where the issues are about a lot more than a dent in one’s lifestyle.

 

I can say with certainty that, if there was a choice, a lot of people doing the hard yards at the moment would rather be at home with their families. The work is exhausting and demoralising. This is not a voluntary protest, it is an act of self-defence, protecting their homes, their families, and for those who have wind farms built near their homes, their sanity.

 

“When law becomes despotic, morals are relaxed, and vice versa.”

Honore de Balzac

 

 

But these are just the musings of an idealist, who believes the role of government is to uphold the Constitution, and more particularly, that such Government is prohibited from making laws which attack the very fabric of our society, the family. Silly me.

 

I wish all of you a festive season of family, love and goodwill.

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Posted in EirGrid; Insurance; Law; Cancer; EMF, EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, Peremptory law; Directory Law; Planning and Devlopment Act of 2000 | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

How Authorisation Procedures for Wind Farms are Illegally Discriminating Against Other Sources of Renewable Energy

An interesting article from Pat Swords:

 

Pat Swords for blog

 

1.1   Background

There is now in 2019 approximately 3,700 MW of wind energy installed in the Republic of Ireland with an additional 1,300 MW installed in N. Ireland. As can be seen from the Figure 1 below, for extended periods there is little or no wind power output, and then when a low pressure system moves in, the wind turbines all rush on to the grid at the same time.

 

Figure 1 Pat

Figure 1: All island electricity demand and wind energy output for week 7th Jan to 13th Jan 2019 (Eirgrid Data)

 

This is also clearly demonstrated in Figure 2 overleaf showing electricity demand and wind power output from early September 2019 to early October 2019. For large periods of the time, there was simply little or no wind energy, which when it was available generally rushed on to the grid for a short period, as a low pressure system moved through. During these periods of peak output, the wind energy output was at times nearly equal to the troughs occurring in system demand, i.e. each night time period.

 

 

 

Figure 2 Pat

Figure 2: All Ireland electricity demand and wind energy output for period 8/9/2019 to 7/10/2019

 

1.2    Impact of Intermittent Wind Energy

This irregular supply of wind energy causes huge problems with the existing generators on the grid, as they have to reduce their output or even cease generating for the period in which the wind energy rushes on to the grid, a procedure called curtailment. The “Impact of Wind Power Generation In Ireland on the Operation of Conventional Plant and the Economic Implications”, published in 2004 by ESB National Grid[1], was written at a time when there was an indicative target being considered by the EU that 13.2% of Ireland’s primary electricity would come from renewable sources by 2010. Currently in 2019 the percentage of electricity in Ireland, which comes from wind energy is reported as 30%. As that 2004 report points out, increasing the percentage of highly variable and intermittent wind energy on the grid cause conventional generators to operate in an increasingly inefficient stop / start manner.

 

  • The adverse effect of wind on thermal plant increases as the wind energy penetration rises.  Plant operates less efficiently and with increasing volatility.

 

This increases costs and reduces the effective emissions savings. An analogy can be to consider conventional generators as like vehicles now driving in a congested urban environment, with frequent stop / starts and acceleration and deceleration to compensate for the highly intermittent and variable wind energy input, while previously they were operating on a steady load like driving on the motorway.

 

Indeed, this is the reason why the simplistic carbon saving calculations completed by wind farm developers and claims made by the Irish state, such as in its National Renewable Energy Action Plan progress reports;[2] do not reflect actual real world emission savings. While a MW of electricity generated by wind energy, in the limited periods when it is available, will replace a MW of electricity, which would have otherwise have been generated primarily by fossil fuelled thermal plants, it does not displace the emissions associated with otherwise generating a MW of electricity in a thermal plant. This is because of the intermittent wind energy input to the grid, those thermal plant are now operating in a more inefficient stop start manner with increased emissions per unit of electricity generated. .

 

As that 2004 ESB report went on to conclude:

 

  • The EU target for Ireland, from all renewable sources, is 13.2%. Therefore it can be estimated that, in the long term, using WPG [Wind Power Generation] to comply with the EU target will increase electricity generation costs by 15% (€196m as a percentage of €1.28bn).  This translates to a CO2 abatement cost in excess of €120/tonne.

 

  • The cost of CO2 abatement arising from using large levels of wind energy penetration appears high relative to other alternatives.

 

In 2019 we have reached a 30% input of wind energy to the grid (penetration), which is far in excess of the figure being considered above in 2004. As thermal plant inefficiencies increase as more wind energy is added to the grid, the relative abatement cost highlighted above is a significant underestimation of the situation pertaining in 2019.

 

1.3   Economic Cost of Carbon Reduction with Different Renewable Energy Sources

 

Furthermore, as the renewable energy programme has proceeded in Ireland without any form of supporting analysis, there has never been a proper economic assessment of the cost of reducing carbon emissions, using wind energy or any of the other ten sources of renewable energy listed in renewable energy Directive 2009/28/EC.[3] A Directive which defines:

 

  • ‘energy from renewable sources’ means energy from renewable non-fossil sources, namely wind, solar, aerothermal, geothermal, hydrothermal and ocean energy, hydropower, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogases;

 

Many of these eleven different sources of renewable energy are of a diffuse nature and more suited to being applied for heat energy rather than the generation of electricity. An example of this being the use of solar energy for water heating, which is a simple technology approach, such as circulating water through evacuated glass tubes.

 

  • Typical well-installed systems provide up to 60% of hot water demand over 12 months.[4]

 

The cost effectiveness of this approach can be determined from the fact that such solar hot water heating installations were in use even before grants for their installation became available. As could also be said in relation to biomass (wood based) heating systems and aerothermal and geothermal systems for space heating. If we consider a Waste to Energy plant, the municipal waste is combusted at a minimum temperature of 850 ⁰C producing in the boiler high pressure steam for electricity generation and hot water for use in district heating. Some 50% of the waste is of biogenic origin (biomass) and therefore 50% of energy produced is from a renewable source.

 

If this waste had instead gone to landfill, the biogenic fraction would have rotted and produced methane, which is a global warming gas with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 28 – 36 over 100 years.[5] In other words it is some 28 to 36 times more potent than carbon dioxide. While the landfill gas collection system would have captured some of this methane for combustion in gas engines, figures show that of the order of 40% is directly released to atmosphere.[6] In a Waste to Energy plant, the heat and mass balance shows 810 kWh of electricity produced per tonne of Municipal Solid Waste combusted with about 0.72 kg biogenic CO2 and 0.53 kg fossil CO2 per kWh of direct emissions.[7]

 

In the same timeframe that the Irish report was stating that utilising a low penetration of wind energy to reduce a tonne of CO2 emissions was €120, it was being reported that the cost to avoid a tonne of CO2 utilising Waste to Energy technology was about €43, whereas the costs to avoid 1 tonne of CO2 with (other) biomass was €80.[8] Indeed, if district heating systems are used in addition to solely electrical outputs, then this Waste to Energy CO2 avoidance cost reduces to the range €7 to €20.

 

1.4   Adverse Impact on other Renewable Generators

The capacity factor is the actual power generated divided by the rated peak design power. The capacity factor for the Indaver Waste to Energy plant in Co. Meath and the Irish wind energy sector is show in Figure 3 overleaf for the period of the 12th to 13th January 2019. This Indaver Waste to Energy plant treats some 200,000 tonnes of Municipal Solid Waste per annum, with an electricity output of 18 MW, which was until recently a continuous output, with over 50% being classified as renewable.[9]

 

 

Figure 3 Pat

Figure 3: Wind Energy Capacity Factor and Capacity Factor of Indaver WtE for the 12thand 13th January 2019 (Data from Eirgrid)

 

Clearly a low pressure system passed through on the 12th and 13th January 2019 and as a result considerable wind energy was inputted to the grid, such that other generators had to be taken off line and kept on hot standby ready to ramp up, when the inevitable happened and the wind dropped. This can be clearly seen in Figure 3, where the Indaver Waste to Energy plant had to be taken off the grid for extended periods. However, such a waste to energy plant can’t be simply throttled back, the waste is still arriving and the furnace temperature has to be kept at a minimum of 850 ⁰C to avoid dioxin formation in the off-gases. Instead the steam generated simply has to be dumped into the plant’s cooling system rather than be used to generate steam. Not only is this a loss of revenue to the Waste to Energy plant operator, but it is reflected in resulting higher costs for waste disposal of those using that facility.

 

Indeed, an examination of pages 43 and 44 of 55 of Indaver’s Annual Environmental Report for 2018 gives a curtailment figure of 6,550 MWh.[10] Dublin Waste to Energy was also curtailed in 2018 by 30,550.8 MWh representing about 7% of the electricity it generated that year for the grid. See page 10 of 28 of its 2018 Annual Environmental Report as submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency.[11]

 

In total both Irish Waste to Energy plants in 2018 curtailed 30,551 + 6,550 = 37,101 MWh of useful electricity. As the municipal waste keeps coming in and the furnaces have to be kept at a minimum of 850 ⁰C, the steam generated in the boilers has to be sent to bypass the generators and be dumped to the cooling system. In the case of Dublin Waste to Energy, this dumped heat ends up in Dublin Bay at Ringsend.

 

So what is that in real money? Iarnrod Eireann used 25,240 MWh of electricity for traction on its Dart network in 2017.[12] So the amount curtailed from the Waste to Energy plants in Ireland in 2018 to facilitate increased wind energy on the grid is 1.5 times greater than what the Dart used in 2017. As more wind energy is installed, this situation is worsening, while as has been previously pointed out, some 50% of the energy output from such waste to energy plants is classified as renewable, because the incoming waste is some 50% of biogenic origin.

 

1.5  Authorisation Procedures which are Discriminatory

The Renewable Directive 2009/28/EC, while defining some eleven different sources as renewable, also places an obligation in its Article 13 on “Administrative procedures, regulations and codes”, which requires that:

 

  • 1. Member States shall ensure that any national rules concerning the authorisation, certification and licensing procedures that are applied to plants and associated transmission and distribution network infrastructures for the production of electricity, heating or cooling from renewable energy sources, and to the process of transformation of biomass into biofuels or other energy products, are proportionate and necessary.

 

  • Member States shall, in particular, take the appropriate steps to ensure that:

 

  • (d) rules governing authorisation, certification and licensing are objective, transparent, proportionate, do not discriminate between applicants and take fully into account the particularities of individual renewable energy technologies;

 

Authorisation clearly means the granting of planning permits, which is what this planning procedure entails. Furthermore, proportionality is a key aspect of EU jurisprudence, and the principle of proportionality is one of the key principles of Community law and given this pivotal status, it has been the focus of many judgments of the European Court; where the following principles have been repeatedly expounded:

 

  • “….according to settled case‑law, the principle of proportionality, which is one of the general principles of European Union law, requires that measures adopted by the European Union institutions do not exceed the limits of what is appropriate and necessary in order to attain the objectives legitimately pursued by the legislation in question; when there is a choice between several appropriate measures, recourse must be had to the least onerous, and the disadvantages caused must not be disproportionate to the aims pursued.”[13]

 

From a legal perspective, the situation has already arisen in Ireland that the excessive granting of planning permissions and grid connections for wind farms is clearly discriminating against other renewable sources, in particular that of Waste to Energy facilities. As previously highlighted utilising a low penetration of wind energy to reduce a tonne of carbon dioxide was €120, while the cost to avoid 1 tonne of CO2 with Waste to Energy technology was about €43, whereas the costs to avoid 1 tonne of CO2 with (other) biomass was €80.  Indeed, if district heating systems are used in addition to solely electrical outputs, then this Waste to Energy CO2 avoidance cost reduces to the range €7 to €20.

 

In other words, this discrimination is clearly illegal, as it is occurring in a manner which is discriminating against a renewable energy source, which is of significant lower cost, and is therefore a clear breach of legal requirements related to proportionality. However, this discrimination has a wider impact than solely the two Waste to Energy plants installed to date in Ireland. On the 24th July 2018 the following reply was provided in the Oireachtas by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment:[14]

 

  • The Lough Ree and West Offaly plants will no longer receive support for their peat production under the PSO from the end of 2019. Both plants have been approved under the REFIT 3 scheme for PSO support for co-firing 30% of total capacity out to 2030, and it is expected that these plants will begin co-firing on biomass in 2019. These two plants require the relevant planning permission to operate beyond 2019. The Edenderry plant has been approved for 30% co-firing support out to 2030, subject to renewal of planning permission.

 

Therefore three peat fired power stations representing a total output of 370 MW of electricity, will potentially have 30% of that output originating from renewable sources. Furthermore, if one consults the Gas Networks Ireland website, then this explains:[15]

 

  • Renewable gas[16] will be available on the gas network from late in 2018 and Gas Networks Ireland aims to supply 20% of Ireland’s gas from renewables by 2030. This equates to 15% of electricity generation demand or the heating requirements of up to 1,000,000 homes[17].  EU reports have indicated that Ireland has the greatest potential for renewable gas deployment of any of the EU 27 countries[18].  It is estimated that the roll out of renewable gas in Ireland will support 6,500 jobs[19], mostly based in rural Ireland.

 

While in addition to the two existing Waste to Energy plants, additional Waste to Energy capacity is required for waste management in the South East, South and West of the Country.

 

The only conclusion one can draw from the increasing number of partly biomass fuelled power generation plants on the grid, is that if Irish authorities continue to authorise more and more wind energy in a uncoordinated manner without any proper analysis, then considerable discrimination of these other renewable energy sources will occur, as they are curtailed to facilitate the increasing peaks in wind energy output. This is a failure of transparency and proportionality and is discriminating against other renewable sources. Hence by its nature it is a fundamental breach of Article 13 of Directive 2009/28/EC on “Administrative procedures, regulations and codes”.

 

 

[1] https://docs.wind-watch.org/EirGrid-WindImpact-Main.pdf

[2] See Section 10 of the NREAP progress reports:

https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/energy/topics/Renewable-Energy/irelands-national-renewable-energy-action-plan-(nreap)/Pages/Action-Plan.aspx

[3] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A32009L0028

[4] https://www.seai.ie/sustainable-solutions/renewable-energy/solar-energy/heat-and-hot-water-from-solar/

[5] https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/understanding-global-warming-potentials

[6] See for example Table 4.10: https://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/research/climate/CCRP_3_Timoney_MethaneLandfill_web.pdf

[7]  Consonni et al 2005

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4bc0/99953f62973e77f7a29474afcef4bd4636eb.pdf

http://www.seas.columbia.edu/earth/wtert/newwtert/meetings/meet2005/WTERTAnnualMeeting/presentations/S.%20Consonni.pdf

[8] https://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/print/volume-15/issue-5/features/waste-to-energy-energy-no-time-to-waste.html   and Section 7.7 of:

https://www.umwelt.nrw.de/fileadmin/redaktion/PDFs/umwelt/munlv_klimaschutz_endbericht.pdf

[9] https://www.indaver.com/ie-en/services-for-municipal-waste/municipal-services-in-ireland/treatment-of-msw-in-meath/

[10] http://www.epa.ie/licences/lic_eDMS/090151b2806e45ad.pdf

[11] http://www.epa.ie/licences/lic_eDMS/090151b2806e349f.pdf

[12] See page 8: http://www.irishrail.ie/media/2017-iarnrod-eireann-annual-report.pdf

[13] For example ECJ, 07.03.2013, T-370/11, Poland v Commission

http://curia.europa.eu/juris/documents.jsf?num=T-370/11

[14] https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2018-07-24/2126/

[15] https://www.gasnetworks.ie/corporate/news/active-news-articles/natural-gas-generation-hits-all-time-high/

[16] Renewable gas is made using grass and other natural feedstocks using a process called anaerobic digestion.

[17] 1,000,000 homes is based on typical domestic gas consumption per CRU decision paper: https://www.cru.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/CER17042-Review-of-Typical-Consumption-Figures-Decision-Paper-1.pdf  and is therefore based on total gas consumption.

[18] Optimal use of biogas from waste streams.  An assessment of the potential of biogas from digestion in the EU beyond 2020 (European Commission)

[19] IrBEA – Irish BioEnergy Association.

Posted in EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, NREAP; National Renewable Energy Action Plan; EU Commission; Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee; ACCC, Pat Swords | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The attack on Human Rights in Turkey

Symbolbild Türkei Einschränkung der Meinungsfreiheit (picture alliance/dpa/S. Suna/epa)

Our friends in Turkey continue to try and protect their homes and heritage sites from a rampant wind industry supported by a ruthless government and some highly questionable court decisions. Despite these obstacles, the community continues to pursue what many of us would consider to be our fundamental rights.

Show your support here

 

 

Posted in Arsin Demir, Çalık Holding; Turkey; EU; renewables, EIA Directive 2014/52/EU, EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, Legal Costs; Access to Justice; Courts, lobbying; democracy; political process; general election, Turkey; ABK Çeşme RES Enerji Elektrik Üretim A.Ş, Wind Turbines: Esen Fatma Kabadayi Whiting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

QED

Renewables Threaten German Economy & Energy Supply, McKinsey Warns In New Report

To stabilize the electricity grid and avoid becoming too dependent on imported natural gas, Germany is expanding coal mining to the Hambach forest, where environmental activists were arrested last September.

 

new report by consulting giant McKinsey finds that Germany’s Energiewende, or energy transition to renewables, poses a significant threat to the nation’s economy and energy supply.

One of Germany’s largest newspapers, Die Weltsummarized the findings of the McKinsey report in a single word: “disastrous.”

“Problems are manifesting in all three dimensions of the energy industry triangle: climate protection, the security of supply and economic efficiency,” writes McKinsey.

In 2018, Germany produced 866 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, a far cry from its goal of 750 million tonnes by 2020.

Thanks to a slightly warmer winter, emissions in Germany went down slightly in 2018, but not enough to change the overall trend. “If emissions reductions continue at the same pace as they did over the past decade, then CO2 targets for 2020 will only be reached eight years later, and 2030 targets will not be reached until 2046.”

Germany has failed to even come close to reducing its primary energy consumption to levels it hoped. McKinsey says Germany is just 39% toward its goal for primary energy reduction.

 

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/09/05/renewables-threaten-german-economy-energy-supply-mckinsey-warns-in-new-report/#6a8917bc8e48

Posted in Academic Research; Peer-Review Process; Medical Journals, An Bord Pleanala; appeal; interested parties, Çalık Holding; Turkey; EU; renewables, Democracy; Ireland; Fine Gael; Labour; Sinn Fein; Workers; Constitution, Dr Sarah Laurie; Steve Cooper; Bob McMurtry; Alun Evans, EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, Freedom of Information; Access to Environmental Information; AIE; Commissioner for Environmental Information, GDPR; Data Protection; Individual Rights, Green Party; Ireland; Eamonn Ryan; Cormac Manning, Irish Farmers Association; IFA; wind farm contracts, Kilvinane Wind Farm Ltd; substituted consent, Planning and Development Act 2000; guidelines; directives; Sections 28 & 29 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ireland in trouble with Aarhus – again

windaware ireland

Many thanks to Wind Aware Ireland for this very informative update:

Updates.

30th August, 2019

A panel of legal experts has found that Irish planning law is non-compliant with requirements under an international convention to allow the public to participate in the decision-making process for projects that may significantly affect the environment.

The landmark finding from the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (ACCC) concerns Section 42(1) of the Planning and Development Act (PDA) that allows for planning permission to be extended beyond its original expiry date without any public participation in the renewal process.

The Aarhus Convention is an international agreement that gives a number of rights of the public with regard to the environment, including the right to participate in certain environmental decision-making. The Convention entered into force in 2001 and was ratified by the EU in 2005. Ireland became the last individual EU state to ratify the Convention in June 2012.

Section 42 allows Local Authorities to essentially rubber stamp time extensions to valid planning permission without any further input from the public. There is effectively no discretion to refuse the extension so long as basic technical requirements are met. There is no opportunity for the public or expert public bodies to provide their input.

The requirement in the Convention effectively recognises the need to allow the public to have a voice in light of the changed timeframes and environmental conditions since the original planning decision was made by the Local Authority.

Thus, in its decision released this week, the Committee found that Section 42 is not compliant with the Aarhus Convention as it does not comply with the obligation to provide for effective public participation rights. This is the first finding by the Committee that Ireland is not compliant with the Convention.

The Committee recommended that Ireland now takes the necessary legislative measures to ensure that permits for activities that may impact on the environment cannot be extended without first giving the public an opportunity to participate in the decision making process.

 

Case Background

The case that led to the ACCC’s decision was brought in November 2013 by Kieran Cummins of Enfield, Co Meath concerning planning consent granted to John Keegan Quarries by Meath County Council in 1998 to develop a quarry on 8.5 hectares in Trammon.

On 30 May 2013, the developer submitted applications to extend the duration of three permits granted to it in 1998, 2004 and 2010 before expiry in August 2013. The public was not notified of these applications.

According to Mr Cummins, he only became aware of the extension granted while searching the website of the planning authority for an unrelated file in September 2013. As there was no means of appealing the matter to An Bord Pleanála under Irish planning law, the only means to challenge the decision is via a judicial review challenge through the courts.

The judicial review process is a timely and costly route that most citizens cannot offer to take. In addition, Section 42 challenges are effectively limited to only technical procedural matters.

The ACCC findings say that it is “obvious” that the judicial review process, as the only available domestic legal remedy in such cases, “does not provide an effective and sufficient means of redress” for the public to challenge permit extensions.

The case was the first brought before the ACCC since Ireland ratified the Convention. A further eight cases have since been brought against Ireland. Two were deemed inadmissible, and the rest are still in process.

 

Section 42 criticism

Section 42 of the PDA originally only allowed for an extension of planning permission if substantial works had already commenced on the site.

Following the economic crash when many developers had to abandon projects, an amendment (often referred to as the NAMA clause) was introduced that allows for extension in cases where no work has commenced for economic or technical reasons.

In both circumstances, there is no opportunity for the public to make submissions in the extension decision-making process, even where the project may have an impact on the environment.

Critics have called the process a box-ticking and rubber stamping administrative exercise as planning authorities have no discretion to refuse the request so long as the development meets basic technical requirements.

Critics also argue that this is a flawed process as the planning authority does not have to factor into its decision-making process changes to the environment over the five or ten year period.

Such changes may mean that the impact of the project is significantly different from those considered in the original application process and might now require new management and mitigation plans in order to ensure that that there is no significant impact on the environment.

In addition, the planning authority is not even in a position to attach new conditions to the permission except in relation to financial security issues linked to the completion of the project. They cannot add new conditions that take account of changes in regulations, standards or environmental circumstances over the years since the original permission was granted.

 

 

Posted in Democracy; Ireland; Fine Gael; Labour; Sinn Fein; Workers; Constitution, EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, Freedom of Information; Access to Environmental Information; AIE; Commissioner for Environmental Information, judicial review; Wednesbury Test; O'Keeffe; rationality; Separation of Powers, NREAP; National Renewable Energy Action Plan; EU Commission; Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee; ACCC, Planning and Development Act 2000; guidelines; directives; Sections 28 & 29, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters; Aarhus Convention; Aarhus Treaty, The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

What! More wind turbines? Are you serious?

wind-money

It is now widely recognised that wind turbines are inefficient, costly, environmentally unfriendly, and harmful to humans and other animals. For those who do not particularly care about these things, but are concerned about their personal finances, they are also very hard on the consumer’s pocket, as it is the consumer that is subsidising an industry whose very business model spells financial loss.

Let’s break that down.

inefficient

Inefficient:

“Here’s a quiz; no conferring. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? Was it 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent? None of the above: it was 0 per cent. That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.

Even put together, wind and photovoltaic solar are supplying less than 1 per cent of global energy demand. From the International Energy Agency’s 2016 Key Renewables Trends, we can see that wind provided 0.46 per cent of global energy consumption in 2014, and solar and tide combined provided 0.35 per cent. Remember this is total energy, not just electricity, which is less than a fifth of all final energy, the rest being the solid, gaseous, and liquid fuels that do the heavy lifting for heat, transport and industry.”

(The Spectator, 13/05/2017).

print money

Costly:

“I worked on advanced wind turbine projects in the 1990’s developing variable speed generators to improve electronic efficiency and utilizing improved airfoil design for capturing energy from lower wind velocity.

The true answer is clouded by several factors. Federal and local tax incentive subsidies obscure the real cost. Maintenance is an expensive consideration that often is not considered in operating expenses. Interest paid on financing projects must also be included. Wind turbines, especially large units, are complex structures that require significant investment to build and operate. They are prone to failures and costly to repair. Downtime for routine servicing and inspections produces no electricity and winds are not always reliable consistent.

Turbine assemblies have a useful lifespan of about twenty years as mechanical and electrical components wear out over time and ordinary use, even under the best operating conditions.

The “carbon footprint” of wind turbines, figuring the manufacturing process and all the materials and manpower, transportation, other infrastructure, such as transmission wiring from remote locations, and site preparations involved in erecting and commissioning the units adds up to a real number that is seldom mentioned. Typical large units can be as tall as 400 feet and weigh up to 300 tons.

The actual pay-back of this “green technology” in terms of replacing fossil fuels and overall environmental benefit, including monetary outlay, is probably in decades rather than years.”

(John Rowen, former Aerospace Engineering Specialist/Technician at General Electric (1980-1995) -20/03/2016).

birds turbines

Environmentally unfriendly:

“As for resource consumption and environmental impacts, the direct effects of wind turbines — killing birds and bats, sinking concrete foundations deep into wild lands — is bad enough. But out of sight and out of mind is the dirty pollution generated in Inner Mongolia by the mining of rare-earth metals for the magnets in the turbines. This generates toxic and radioactive waste on an epic scale, which is why the phrase ‘clean energy’ is such a sick joke and ministers should be ashamed every time it passes their lips.

It gets worse. Wind turbines, apart from the fibreglass blades, are made mostly of steel, with concrete bases. They need about 200 times as much material per unit of capacity as a modern combined cycle gas turbine. Steel is made with coal, not just to provide the heat for smelting ore, but to supply the carbon in the alloy. Cement is also often made using coal. The machinery of ‘clean’ renewables is the output of the fossil fuel economy, and largely the coal economy.

A two-megawatt wind turbine weighs about 250 tonnes, including the tower, nacelle, rotor and blades. Globally, it takes about half a tonne of coal to make a tonne of steel. Add another 25 tonnes of coal for making the cement and you’re talking 150 tonnes of coal per turbine. Now if we are to build 350,000 wind turbines a year (or a smaller number of bigger ones), just to keep up with increasing energy demand, that will require 50 million tonnes of coal a year. That’s about half the EU’s hard coal–mining output.”

(The Spectator, 13/05/2017).

noisy turbines

Harmful to man and beast:

“Health studies into the effect of wind turbines on those living in their vicinity must be explored to prevent potential health problems, a conference on public health heard yesterday.

Alun Evans, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology in Queens University, Belfast was speaking at the 2014 Summer Scientific Meeting at the Royal College of Physicians the second day of which was held in Dublin yesterday.

He said it was “quite possible” if the Dublin array, a proposed €2 billion project which would see 145 wind turbines constructed 10km off the east coast, goes ahead that up to two million people could be exposed to infrasound, a “sizeable minority” of who could potentially experience sleep disturbance.

Prof Evans said there was “clear evidence” that, as the size of wind turbines had increased, so has the infrasound and low frequency sounds generated by them and that they were now emitting “serious amounts of noise”.

“When you measure them with the correct filters you find they are producing noise levels which are far above what’s supposed to be permitted,” he said.

He said while many people are not affected, that others could experience sleep disturbance, adding this in turn leads to increased blood pressure which he said is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”

(Irish Times, 23/05/2014)

 

“Cellular Mechanotransduction is the mechanism by which cells convert mechanical signals into biochemical responses. Based on the mechanical effects on cells it was proposed in this research project that the ground vibrations were responsible for a increased bone growth which was not accompanied by the muscle-tendon unit growth leading to the development of these flexural deformities.”

(The Lusitano Project, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Lisbon, 2013).

wind energy not free

Affecting your pocket:

Germany, once the European leader in the production and subsidising of wind farms, is rapidly abandoning this position, as the German public is now in open revolt, both over the physical impact of the monster turbines, and the ever increasing cost of electricity as a result of ever increasing subsidies.

“Several thousand wind turbines in Germany are likely to be closed down in the next decade because they will no longer receive any subsidies. “If electricity prices do not rise over the next decade, only a few plants will survive on the market without subsidies,” says an analysis by the Berlin-based consulting firm Energy Brainpool. This assessment is shared by most professionals. “In any case, by 2020, the shutdown of existing facilities is to be expected to a greater or lesser extent,” an article by several economists of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig concludes. “

(Translated from the German. ‘Ende der Förderung: Alte Windräder müssen bald vom Netz’; zdf.de-31/10/2017).

enviro unfriendly

I have deliberately sought older citations to show that this information has been in the public domain for a long time. In other words, the Irish government is well aware of this information – it is freely available. Whilst other European governments: Germany, Finland and Sweden in particular (I mention these three as they were at the vanguard of European wind farm building a decade ago) have dramatically reduced and even reversed their wind farm building, the Irish government continues to fully support the building of more windfarms, as evidenced by the slew of planning applications across the country.

This head-in-the-sand mentality is either as a result of stupidity, or corruption. In other words, our rulers are either acting on false or no information; or payments have been made, promises must be kept, and directorships for retired ministers are still the name of the game. You decide.

The Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) is “a standing committee of Dáil Éireann which focuses on ensuring public services are run efficiently and achieve value for money.” (https://www.oireachtas.ie; accessed 15/08/2019). Perhaps the PAC should investigate the subsidy scam?

conclusion

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Autism : A colourful history

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Originally posted on From the Inside:
This morning, I found a handful of photographs of our Ian from many years ago.  I was looking for something completely different, of course.  That is the way of my life.  The minute I…

Gallery | Leave a comment

The final stages of capitalism

Illustration

In Das Kapital, (my translation) Marx describes the final stages of capitalism, literally along the lines of ‘capitalism will eat itself’:

 

“The final stages of capitalism will be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists will begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. Democracy, social welfare, electoral participation, the common good and investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, utilities, industry, education, ecosystem protection and health care will be sacrificed to feed the mania for short-term profit. These assaults will destroy the host.”

 

Let’s break that down and apply the mentioned elements to contemporary Ireland under a Fine Gael government:

 

“global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels”

Apple is granted planning permission by Galway City Council despite admitting that the proposed data centre will “consume more electricity than Dublin”.

https://www.irishcentral.com/business/technology/apple-told-to-reveal-why-they-are-building-new-massive-plant-in-secret-area-in-ireland

 

As a result of intense publicity, and despite winning their Supreme Court appeal, Apple abandons its plans to build the ‘super data centre’.

https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/supreme-court-dismisses-residents-appeal-over-apple-s-athenry-data-centre-1.3856972

 

But was the withdrawal due to publicity, or was it a case that Apple did not need the data centre anymore?

https://www.equinix.ie/resources/analyst…/gartner-emerging-digital-infrastructures/

 

Capitalists will begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them.

During its (almost) ten years in government, Fine Gael have consistently sold off public assets, usually with the public purse coming off second-best and the buyer making a killing:

https://www.thejournal.ie/state-assets/news/

 

 

Democracy, social welfare, electoral participation, the common good and investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, utilities, industry, education, ecosystem protection and health care will be sacrificed to feed the mania for short-term profit.

A small selection of examples indicating the ever widening chasm between the “have it all’s” and the “have nothing’s”.

granny

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/taoiseach-denies-budget-intended-to-safeguard-fine-gael-government-874219.html

 

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/thousands-turn-out-for-cardiac-care-upgrade-in-waterford-1.3764222

 

https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2017-11-22/28/

 

 

https://www.focusireland.ie/

Image result for homelessness in ireland

 

The latest attack on democracy is Fine Gael’s plan to “streamline” planning applications; i.e. crush any public objectors/opposition.

 

https://www.finegael.ie/new-laws-examined-data-centre-planning-breen/

 

 

“These assaults will destroy the host.”

Image result for revolution ireland

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Plain English please!

angry girl

“It is important to remember why our statutes should be framed in such a way as to be clearly comprehensible to those affected by them. It is an aspect of the Rule of Law. People who live under the Rule of Law are entitled to claim that the law should be intelligible. A society whose regulations are incomprehensible lives with the Rule of Lottery, not the Rule of Law”.

(Lord Simon of Glaisdale).

 

Why is it necessary for lawyers to speak gibberish? The official word for legal language is ‘legalese’, but gibberish is a more accurate description.

 

An elderly lady asked for my help recently. It turned out that her legal problem was a dispute with her landlord about his raising the rent, despite her understanding that the rent would not be increased until 2020. She had gone to a solicitor for a number of consultations and finally the solicitor had written her a letter, the primary paragraph of which read thus:

“In the event that you are not in agreement with respect to the amount of rent due and payable at that point in time there is a provision in the abovementioned contract which provides for the submission of the dispute to an arbitrator who shall hear and determine the dispute in accordance with the said contract.”

She did not understand what the letter meant but did not want to ask the solicitor to explain it as that would mean another consultation and another fee. I explained that what the letter said was:
‘If you do not agree on the amount of rent that your landlord demands, the contract says that the dispute must be decided at arbitration.’
I also had to explain what an arbitration was.

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Why could the solicitor not use plain English?

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Our statutory law is no better. My favourite is this definition from the Road Traffic Act of 1961, which says that a “pedestrian-controlled mechanically propelled vehicle” is a

“mechanically propelled vehicle which is neither intended nor adapted for use for carrying the driver or a passenger, or which is intended or adapted so that there are alternative methods of driving it, namely, by a person carried on it or by a pedestrian, except during a period during which it is driven while carrying the driver or a passenger”.

One needs to read that definition carefully and often. What it seems to be saying is that electric shopping baskets are not covered by the Act, whilst motorised wheelchairs are, especially when they are used to carry passengers, except perhaps when they are motionless. If you work it out, let me know.

 

Another favourite of mine is Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act of 1996:

“An appeal from a safety order or a barring order shall, if the court that made the order or the court to which the appeal is brought so determines (but not otherwise), stay the operation of the order on such terms (if any) as may be imposed by the court making the determination.”

My reading of this is that the order is only stopped by an appeal if the court says so, and not automatically. Again, let me know if you read it differently.

 

If a society labelling itself as a democracy claims to be governed by the rule of law as one of the principal pillars of that democracy, it stands to reason that the law should be capable of being understood and obeyed by the majority of the people governed by that law.  If, however, the law is such an unintelligible mishmash that most people have to rely on the legal profession to explain the meaning and impact of the law when it invades all aspects of their lives, are we really a democracy?

 

Article 40 of our Constitution orders the Government to make laws that “defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen”. Has this constitutional duty been fulfilled when the citizen cannot understand the laws in the first place?

 

Similarly, s.5 of the Interpretation Act 2005 tells us that when interpreting a provision of any Act that is “obscure or ambiguous”, the provision shall be interpreted to “reflect the plain intention” of the Oireachtas.

 

And which ‘plain intention’ would that be? Is this not a case of a dog chasing its own tail?

Posted in Democracy; Ireland; Fine Gael; Labour; Sinn Fein; Workers; Constitution, lobbying; democracy; political process; general election | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Hate Speech

bullets

 

What is hate speech?

Hate speech, as defined by the No Hate Speech Movement Ireland, covers all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or attempt to justify any form of hatred, stereotyping or discrimination based on intolerance.

This includes, but is not limited to, intolerance of people based on their ethnic and cultural backgrounds, religious belief, disability and health, sexual orientation and gender identity.  Hate speech also includes sexism, misogyny, aggressive nationalism, and all forms of threatening and/or abusive language based on an identifiable characteristic of a person.

 

Why is it important to make hate speech illegal?

One of the positive aspects of law is that it can have an educating effect and get people to think about some of their attitudes and habits. The plastic bag levy gets people to reuse their plastic bags, not because they necessarily care for the environment, but because it saves them fifteen cents. This becomes a habit and suddenly that person is contributing to a cleaner environment.

Hate crime legislation, admittedly over a long time, can shape the attitudes of a society when it comes to showing tolerance to those who are different from us. The punishment of hate crime offenders as ‘hate offenders’ offers an important public forum of censure (like the stocks, flogging post and gallows that used to be in the town square) and denunciation of the offender’s prejudice. This in turn creates a social climate that will hopefully impact on future generations until tolerance becomes a societal norm.

 

What is the position in Ireland?

There is no specialist hate crime legislation in Ireland. The Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 contains the following definition:

“hatred” means hatred against a group of persons in the State or elsewhere on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation”.

Section 2 says it shall be an offence for a person:

 (a) to publish or distribute written material,

(b) to use words, behave or display written material—

(i) in any place other than inside a private residence, or

(ii) inside a private residence so that the words, behaviour or material are                   heard or seen by persons outside the residence,  or

(c) to distribute, show or play a recording of visual images or sounds,

if the written material, words, behaviour, visual images or sounds, as the case may be, are threatening, abusive or insulting and are intended or, having regard to all the circumstances, are likely to stir up hatred.

 

In other words, if you keep your hatred within the four walls of your home (and teach your children at home, rather than in the park), you are OK.  Just don’t let anyone hear you.

 

The Irish Council of Civil Liberties (ICCL), in their report, The Lifecycle of a Hate Crime: Country Report for Ireland, tell us that Ireland has one of the highest rates of hate crime against people of African background and transgender people in the EU, but has no laws to address it. They state that Ireland is “seriously deficient” when it comes to addressing hate crime in the state. This is despite Ireland being significantly above the EU average when it came to people from certain groups reporting having been subjected to hate crimes.

 

A separate report published in December of last year by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA)  found that 21% of people surveyed from a sub-Saharan African background experienced six or more physical attacks due to their ethnic or immigrant background in the five years preceding the survey.

This compared with an EU group average of 9% – and made Ireland the highest ranking in this area.

In relation to transgender rights, a 2014 FRA study found that Ireland recorded the second highest rate of hate-motivated violence against transgender people in Europe.

A total of 13% of trans people surveyed reported having been physically or sexually assaulted or threatened with violence, in attacks either wholly or partly motivated by transphobia, in the 12 months prior to the survey.

 

 

An Irish white man recently called me “a white supremacist from South Africa”. The rest of his comments are too gross to print. Whilst the ignorant conflation of “Mississippi Burning” and “The Long Walk to Freedom” provided some private amusement, that was only because I am old and cynical, and also appreciate the striking similarities between apartheid South Africa and the Deep South. Despite living in Ireland for sixteen years, and being an Irish citizen for eleven years; I still remember just how awful it was in the dark days of apartheid South Africa, and how privileged I was just because of the colour of my skin, despite my beliefs.

Somebody else, on the other hand, might take that sort of remark quite badly, and justifiably so.

 

People need to talk to each other, rather than at each other. Peace and love people, peace and love.

 

The “Oyster” is taking a sabbatical. I leave the energy debate in hands far more capable than mine. I have another blog on disability issues which you are welcome to visit.

Adios.

thatsallfolks

Posted in EirGrid; Insurance; Law; Cancer; EMF | 3 Comments

Distraction from the car engine

A very insightful piece from an amazing young woman.

via Distraction from the car engine

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Reasons, and the reasons for giving Reasons.

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This is a case report on the Supreme Court judgment of:

Kathleen Connelly v. An Bord Pleanala

(Clare County Council and McMahon Finn Wind Acquisitions Ltd – Notice Parties)

Full judgment here: Kathleen Connolly v ABP Supreme Court

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The Parties

Kathleen Connolly was originally the applicant. She was successful in overturning the decision of An Bord Pleanala (ABP) to reverse the refusal of planning permission by Clare County Council and grant planning permission to McMahon Finn Wind Acquisitions Limited (the developer).

ABP appealed this decision of the High Court (Barrett J.) and because of its extreme public importance, the decision “leapfrogged” to the Supreme Court, without having to first go through the Court of Appeal.

 

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The Facts

The developer applied for planning permission for six wind turbines at Coor West, Shanvogh, County Clare. Clare County Council refused permission, and the developer appealed this refusal to the ABP. As it seems to do with alarming frequency, the ABP rejected its inspector’s recommendation to refuse permission and dismissed a number of the inspector’s concerns, particularly his concern over the significant impact that the wind farm would have on Carrowmore Point to Spanish Point and Islands Special Area of Conservation and on the Mid Clare Coast Special Protection Area.

The ABP issued the developer with a Section 132 Notice, which essentially calls for a Natura Impact Statement (NIS). The developer complied with this, and the ABP thereafter concluded that it had sufficient information before it to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and an Appropriate Assessment (AA), that it had done so, and that it was satisfied that it could grant planning permission.

The Arguments

In essence the High Court had found against the ABP for providing inadequate reasons for its decision. The High Court agreed with Ms Connelly that although the ABP had carried out an AA and an EIA, it had had not provided sufficient reasons for its decision granting permission.

The High Court said the following:

” … what is required of An Bord Pleanala are complete, precise and definitive findings and conclusions of a degree of specificity sufficient that a party minded to seek judicial review of such determination can turn readily to the particular observations, reasoning or conclusions in, say, a particular report or text to which reference is made, rather than simply being told that somewhere in an ocean of documentation is some stream of logic that An Bord Pleanala favours. And if it is all of a particular report or text that is being relied upon by An Bord Pleanala, so be it, but let it be identified properly, so that the findings and conclusions reached in its determination are sufficiently complete, precise and definitive as to enable

(i) an interested party meaningfully to assess the lawfulness of that determination and

(ii) a court to undertake a ready and comprehensive judicial review of same.

   (my bold)

Judge Barrett was not satisfied that the decision of the ABP met this standard and concluded that Ms. Connelly could not readily satisfy herself as to whether or not to bring a challenge against the ABP’s decision to grant consent to the developer.

The ABP argued that the High Court had set the bar too high when it came to the adequacy of reasons. In its appeal, the Board argued that if the High Court judgment was upheld, that this would have “serious consequences” for how the ABP would in future have to deal with making its decisions. In other words, the ABP was horrified at the thought of having to provide clear and precise reasons for its decisions, particularly as this would involve scientifically verifiable facts and conclusions.

It is important to point out that the High Court did not consider the Kelly judgment regarding the specific requirements which must be satisfied when it carries out an AA in order to give the Board jurisdiction to grant a permission. Judge Barrett was focused on the general duty to provide reasons:

“…when it comes to providing, again pursuant to s.l72(1J) “the main reasons and considerations on which the decision is based”, the court considers that the summary form of the text of An Bord Pleanala’s decision in this regardimparts next to no information to an affected party-here [Ms. Connelly]. She is not given a proper understanding of why the decision has been reached- and if she wants to seek a judicial review of the decision within the tight time constraints applicable, the generic form of the reasoning employed by An Bord Pleanala has the effect that she cannot properly assess matters without a detailed consideration of the underlying documentation and/or costly expert assistance.”

 

The Decision

Whilst it is true that the ABP lost its appeal, it actually lost on a very narrow point of law. The Supreme Court rejected most of the High Court’s findings. However, having said that, it was mostly on findings of fact that the High Court was reversed. The Supreme Court echoed Judge Barrett’s pronouncements on the reasons for giving reasons. It simply disagreed with his application of the law on the facts before him. This is very important, because it is the principle of law that is the precedent going forward, and now this is a Supreme Court precedent.

Giving the court’s judgment, the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, said the High Court had imposed “too exacting a standard” on the Board in respect of the obligation under national law to give reasons.

The law on reasons does not require that one agree with the reasons given but only entitles an interested part to know what the reasons were. The Supreme Court was satisfied that the reasons given by the ABP were adequate to enable any interested party know why the Board had made its decision, and also to decide whether there were any grounds to challenge the decision. The Supreme Court also held that there was sufficient detail to allow any interested party to trace the materials that ABP had considered in coming to its decision.

In other words, as previously mentioned, the Supreme Court is agreeing with Judge Barrett’s (i) and (ii) quoted above, but on the facts, and disagreeing with Judge Barrett,  it is saying that the ABP satisfied the requirements of (i) and (ii).

This is not great news on a factual basis as the Supreme Court is saying that the quagmire of impenetrable levels that poses as the ABP website is sufficient for the average person to find information. In truth you need a B.Sc in Computer Science to make any sense of that infuriating site.

“Any materials can be relied on as being a source for relevant reasons subject to the important caveat that it must be reasonably clear to any interested party that the materials sought to be relied on actually provide the reasons which led to the decision concerned. In that regard, it seems to me that the trial judge has, put the matter much too far. The trial judge was· clearly correct to state that a party cannot be expected to trawl through a vast amount of documentation to attempt to discern the reasons for a decision. However, it is not necessary that all of the reasons must be found in the decision itself or in other documents expressly referred to in the decision. The reasons may be found anywhere, provided that it is sufficiently clear to a reasonable observer carrying out a reasonable enquiry that the matters contended actually formed part of the reasoning. If the search required were to be excessive then the reasons could not be said to be reasonably clear.

But it must also be noted that, in at least certain types of applications for planning consent, the issues involved may themselves be complex. The reasons put forward either in favour or against a proposed project may involve detailed scientific argument or complex calculation. If such issues arise then it will inevitably be the case that the reasons themselves may be complex and scientific. Where a party wishes to engage with the planning process in a case which raises complex issues of that type (whether at the stage of the application for permission or in the context of mounting a court challenge to a permission granted) then it is inevitable that the party concerned will also have to engage with such matters if any part of their opposition or challenge derives from such complex or scientific questions. It could form no part of a legitimate complaint, based on an argument as to reasons or the lack thereof, to suggest that the reasoning was unduly complicated or scientific if the issues which arose in the context of the grant or refusal of permission required engagement with such issues.”

What Clarke CJ seems to be saying is that if an issue is very complex in its nature, and that requires a high level of expertise or knowledge in that area, the layperson applicant cannot complain that the reasons provided by the ABP are too complicated to understand, as that is the nature of the beast. However, when the ABP relies on documentation or outside sources of reference, these must be reasonably accessible to the concerned citizen who is considering whether to challenge the ABP’s decision.

It might be argued that the Supreme Court has put too high a premium on the average person’s computer skills, and has ignored the practice of government departments in hiding documentation under multiple layers of electronic camouflage. It also says that once you find these camouflaged documents, you have to pay an expert a fortune to decipher them for you. This is hardly the scenario that was contemplated by the Aarhus Convention and I would suggest that the Supreme Court missed a golden opportunity to lay down a benchmark concerning the type and accessibility of information that should be provided to citizens seeking to exercise their legal rights.

The Supreme Court was satisfied, on the facts, that the ABP’s decision, and materials referred to in that decision, provided adequate information for any interested party to assess whether an appropriate EIA was carried out. Chief Justice Clarke reversed the High Court findings that the reasons were not adequate to demonstrate an EIA had been carried out:

“The law on reasons does not require that one agrees with the reasons given. In a challenge based on allegedly inadequate reasoning, the law only entitles an interested party to know what the reasons were. Someone reading the Decision is informed as to why the Board ultimately came to be satisfied in respect of each of the aspects of the Inspector’s report which were negative. It is no part of the function of this Court in this case to review whether there was a sustainable basis for any of the views expressed by the Board in that regard let alone to second guess the judgment of the Board as to whether it reached the correct conclusions. However, any interested party knows why the Board came to a different view from the Inspector and has attention drawn, where appropriate, to any specific materials which played an important part in persuading the Board to come to that view.

In my view, an interested party would, as a result of reading the Decision in conjunction with the Inspector’s report, together with documents (such as, for example, the Noise and Shadow Flicker Monitoring Report referred to earlier) which are either expressly referred to or by necessary inference must be taken to form part of the reasoning, have sufficient information both to inform themselves as to why the Board ultimately came to the conclusions which it did and also to consider whether there was any basis for challenging the conclusions which the Board reached. In my view, the trial judge imposed too exacting a standard in respect of reasons. Just as, at one extreme, the modern law on reasons does not permit a decision maker to engage in a simple box ticking exercise so also, at the other extreme, the law does not require a level of reasoning which goes beyond that required to afford an interested party reasonable information as to why the Decision was made and whether it can be challenged. In those circumstances I would hold that the reasoning of the Board in this case was adequate. Insofar as the High Court judgment held otherwise I would reverse the judgment.”

However, the Chief Justice noted that “different considerations” applied to the complaints about the AA which had been carried out by the Board.

Here the requirements on the ABP were far more exact and demanding. Before looking at those, the Supreme Court agreed with the High Court that no reasons could be found anywhere in the materials to suggest why the Board decided that a full AA was required. However, the High Court had also correctly held that, provided the AA met the necessary requirements, the failure to give adequate reasons for requiring a full AA was not itself sufficient to render a permission invalid.

But an AA itself goes much further than that. A key requirement of a sustainable AA must involve identifying all aspects of the development project which might affect a protected site and must identify “complete, precise and definitive” findings and conclusions that “no reasonable scientific doubt remains” about the absence of identified potential detrimental effects.

This went far beyond the issue of merely giving adequate reasons:

As noted earlier this is not, strictly speaking, a reasons issue. The issue concerns the validity of an AA decision which gives jurisdiction to the Board to grant permission. It may involve reasons, and when it does those reasons must be given in accordance with the established jurisprudence. But there must also be complete, precise and definitive findings and conclusions which sustain the ultimate conclusion. It is against that backdrop that it is necessary to assess the Decision to determine whether it can be said to contain the sort of scientific findings which the CJEU jurisprudence requires.

In that context it is important to note that there are, in reality, two different stages to the process which must take place in an appropriate sequence. First there must be an AA and an appropriate decision must be made as a result of the AA in order that the Board have jurisdiction to grant a consent. Thereafter, assuming the Board has jurisdiction, the Board may go on to consider whether it should, in all the circumstances, actually grant permission and, if so, on what conditions.

There is no reason why the analysis and conclusion of the Board in respect of both of those matters cannot be contained in the one document. That is, of course, what happened here. The Decision sets out the analysis and conclusion both in respect of the AA and also in respect of the general planning process including the EIA. Once a single document dealing with both matters contains all appropriate information (including reasons) then the fact that all matters are dealt with in a single document even though relating to what are, technically, two different decisions, creates no difficulty. I would, however, recommend that the Board take care in ensuring that there is reasonable clarity as to which parts of such a document relate to an AA and which parts relate to more general planning considerations. This is not a formal requirement and a decision of a planning authority (including the Board) will not be invalid provided that the reasonable observer would be able to understand with reasonable clarity what the Board was deciding and why. However, it might well make the task of all concerned a lot easier if the Board were to clearly distinguish, in any document recording its decision, those aspects of the document which are concerned with an AA from those which are concerned with more general planning considerations.

In any event there is no doubt but that the Decision reaches the appropriate conclusion in respect of the AA. But as already noted that is not sufficient. There must be found either in the decision itself or in other materials which clearly must be taken by express reference or by necessary inference to identify the reasons for the ultimate determination, the sort of complete, precise and definitive findings which justify that conclusion.”

(my bold)

 

On the facts the Supreme Court found that neither the ABP’s decision, nor any materials forming part of the process leading to the decision, contained the sort of “complete, precise and definitive findings” to underpin its conclusion that no reasonable scientific doubt remained concerning the absence of any identified potential detrimental effects on a protected site.

As these findings were a necessary pre-condition to the Board having jurisdiction to grant planning permission, the decision of the ABP to grant consent was invalid.

 

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Commentary

This is not new law. I wrote about this stringent requirement over three years ago. There must be complete, precise and definitive findings and conclusions which sustain the ultimate conclusion. In other words, you cannot fudge the picture and portray your opinions as fact. No, here you must have scientifically verifiable facts which ultimately can only lead to the one conclusion, which is the one you must accept, even where it does not tally with the wishes of your political masters.

The fact of the matter is that this requirement has been routinely ignored by the ABP and now it has been caught out. Hopefully it has learnt its lesson. But this is too late to reverse the multitude of very questionable decisions that the ABP has made on the back of an AA that it supposedly carried out.

Posted in An Bord Pleanala; appeal; interested parties, High Court; Judicial Review; Appeal on the merits; judicial discretion, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA); Grid 25; North-South Interconnector | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Gratitude.

Truly inspirational. I wish you great success in your efforts to support a fabulous cause.

thegreenerdream

It is the eve of our open garden weekend and there are still lots of things to tend to. There are floors to sweep, furniture to move, the café area to organize further and many other last minute preparations.

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Despite this we decided to walk around the garden for a while and take a few photos for sharing with you all here. We are so fortunate to have a place of our own; a garden full of food plants and beautiful flowers to delight us and all the wildlife that we share it with. It makes us feel tremendous gratitude.

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Many millions of people around the world are not so fortunate. They have had to flee their homes and sometimes even their countries and it is because of this we decided to open our garden and home again this year in Support of Amnesty International Ireland and their #Iwelcome Refugees…

View original post 41 more words

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