Tuesday, November 08, 2022

High court reporters

An environmental group has issued High Court proceedings seeking to overturn planning permission granted to a Russian-controlled alumina business for increased disposal capacity at its Co Limerick refinery.

Futureproof Clare wants to legally challenge An Bord Pleanála’s consent for the deposition of an additional 8 million cubic metres of bauxite residue and 22,500 cubic metres of “salt cake”, which is a mixture of aluminum oxides, aluminum nitrides, metal and salts, at a 222-hectare site on Aughinish Island.

Aughinish Alumina Limited, which employs more than 400 staff in Co Limerick, extracts alumina from bauxite, a red earth ore imported from west Africa and Brazil.

The largest alumina refinery in the EU, Aughinish’s alumina is shipped to France and Sweden for smelting to make aluminium.

Kremlin-linked Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska is a key shareholder in the Limerick plant.

Disposal area

In its action, Futureproof Clare says An Bord Pleanála approved in August of this year works to expand the disposal capacity at the existing bauxite residue disposal area and salt cake disposal cell. The expansion works would also include the construction of rock fill embankments, with the disposal area to decrease in footprint as it increases in height.

The organisation says the plant, commissioned in 1983, has grown from producing 800,000 tonnes of alumina per year to 1.95 million tonnes annually.

Futureproof Clare has based its case on a significant number of domestic and European Union environmental law grounds.

Among its claims is an allegation An Bord Pleanála’s decision is void due to being based on a decision of Limerick City Council that is itself invalid.

The group also says an environmental impact statement for the development did not consider that any disturbance to protected birds was significant because there was only a small number present on the site. It is alleged Limerick City Council failed to consider whether the low number of birds was a result of ongoing waste disposal activities alongside the site.

Futureproof Clare alleges the council misidentified the project and failed to assess the overall alumina production installation, contrary to EU environmental directives.

Further, an environmental impact assessment report failed to consider the development’s use of resources, particularly water, says the group.

EU directives

As well as an order quashing the planning permission, Futureproof Clare wants the court to declare that the State failed in the decade leading to 2010 to correctly implement sections of EU directives relating to environmental impact assessments and habitats.

The applicant also wants the court to grant a stay on the operation of the board’s decision pending the conclusion of its judicial review proceedings.

The action was briefly mentioned to the High Court by barrister Alan Doyle, instructed by Eoin Brady of FP Logue solicitors. At this early stage in the legal process, the respondents and notice parties are not represented before the court to refute any claims made.

Futureproof Clare’s application for permission to pursue the case will be heard at a later date.

The judicial review challenge is against An Bord Pleanála, Aughinish Alumina, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Ireland, the Attorney General. An Taisce and Limerick City and County Council are notice parties.

Comments are closed.

Contact Newsdesk: +353 59 9170100

More National News