Ger Killally challenges plan for commercial forest next to his home

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Ger Killally Challenges Plan For Commercial Forest Next To His Home Ger Killally Challenges Plan For Commercial Forest Next To His Home
The former general election running mate of Brian Cowen has brought a High Court challenge over moves to plant the 14.5 acre forest. Photo: File image
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A former general election running mate of former taoiseach Brian Cowen has brought a High Court challenge over moves to plant a 14.5 acre commercial forest next to his home in Co Offaly.

Businessman Gerard Killally, who is also a former cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, claims the afforestation plan will impact on the water quality from a well on his property at Shaen, Edenderry, particularly in relation to drinking water which is pumped from the well to his home and adjoining stables.

He is also concerned about the danger to his property from forest fire posed by an alleged failure to comply with distance requirements in such situations.

Mr Killally is seeking an order quashing the October 2021 decision of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine to grant Forward Developments Ltd and Patrick Paul Sweeney an afforestation licence for the land which he says will be just 10 metres from his stable block and 60 metres from his home.

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The proceedings are also against the Forestry Appeals Committee, which heard an appeal against the Minister's decision, but rejected it.

Property rights

His judicial review application was brought on a one-side only represented basis before Mr Justice Charles Meenan who granted him leave to bring the action and said the case could come back next month.

Oisin Collins SC, for Mr Killally, said afforestation guidelines require a "setback distance" of the trees from adjoining properties which were breached by the Minister's decision and affirmed in the appeal.

In his proceedings, Mr Killally seeks an order quashing the decision to grant a licence for the forest, of mainly Norway Spruce conifers, at Shaen.

He also seeks a declaration that the respondents failed to have proper regard for his property rights, peaceful enjoyment of his home, and to safely abstract drinking water from the ground so as to ensure the health and safety of his family.

He claims the decision was contrary to EU law, including under the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive.  He also says it is in breach of his constitutional and European Convention rights.

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