An environmental group has been successful in a High Court challenge to prevent the expansion of West Limerick based Aughinish Alumina.
Futureproof Clare (FPC) challenged An Bord Pleanála's decision to grant permission to expand the waste disposal area of the Russian-owned facility near the banks of the Shannon Estuary.
The factory, off the N69 and close to Foynes, is Europe’s largest alumina refinery, and is one of the biggest employers in the West Limerick region.
Aluminium firm EN+, which is controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, is the majority shareholder of Russian aluminium giant, Rusal, which owns Aughinish Alumina.
The West Limerick plant processes bauxite, which is a sedimentary rock with a relatively high aluminium content.
An Bord Pleanála had granted planning permission to expand the Bauxite Disposal Area, which is used for leftover bauxite residue, associated with production of alumina.
Permission was also given to extend the permitted borrow pit, which is an area of quarried stone, and to extend the existing Salt Cake Disposal Cell; salt cake is a by-product in the aluminium recycling process.
Futureproof Clare issued High Court proceedings seeking to overturn the grant of planning permission.
The environmental group says An Bord Pleanála conceded the case on the basis of one of the points in FPC’s statement of grounds which noted the failure of the national planning body to take into account An Taisce's submission to the board.
Futureproof Clare was represented by FP Logue solicitor Eoin Brady and he says this is a significant result for the group, which shows the important role that judicial review plays in ensuring that those with responsibility for carrying out environmental assessment of major industrial development such as that at Aughinish do so in a legally compliant way.
The case has been adjourned for two weeks while the parties discuss remittal of the application to An Bord Pleanála.