The High Court has made orders enabling the executors of the estate of the late Frank Dunne to continue his High Court challenges to workers’ access to his stud farmlands for an electricity line upgrade.
Mr Dunne, a pivotal figure in the Dunnes Stores family business, died aged 79 on November 28th. He was the owner and trainer of Stanerra, the only Irish horse to win the prestigious Japan Cup.
Mr Dunne and horse breeder Ann Marshall, along with their company Hamwood Stud Unlimited, jointly initiated two separate but interrelated actions over the ESB and Eirgrid’s plans to refurbish the 22km electricity line between Maynooth and Woodland in Counties Kildare and Meath.
Bloodstock and breeding operations
They have claimed the intended works, which require access to their lands in Dunboyne, will have a “significant effect” on their prize bloodstock and breeding operations.
Lawyer Peter Lennon, who represented the late Mr Dunne, told the court on Monday that Mr Dunne made a will and the three executors of his estate will be seeking a grant of probate, which he said is required before a court can make a judgment in their name.
They will seek to have this complete soon, but he noted there can be delays to issuing grants of probate for “complicated and large estates”.
The three executors, one of whom is Ms Marshall, wish to proceed with the cases and to defend against Eirgrid’s upcoming motion seeking to set aside the court’s grant of leave in one of the cases.
Lawyers for Eirgrid plc, the ESB, the State and county councils indicated they had no objection to the request.
Mr Justice Richard Humphreys offered his condolences and made orders replacing Mr Dunne’s name with the names of the three executors of his estate.
The case will return to court in mid-January.
Fear of foetal loss
Mr Dunne and Ms Marshall said they feared there would be a risk of foetal loss among their mares and cows if works with machinery took place on site. Any disruption to operations may damage Hamwood Stud’s worldwide reputation, they said.
Eirgrid plc wants the court to set aside the grant of leave in the case brought against it, Kildare County Council, Meath County Council, the Attorney General and Ireland. It contends it was brought out of time.
In this action, the applicants claim the local authorities wrongly relied on Eirgrid’s “erroneous” report in declaring the line project was exempt from requiring planning permission.
They allege it should have been considered together with a substation project for multinational technology firm Intel.
Their other challenge, against the ESB, the Attorney General, and Ireland, with Eirgrid on notice, they seek an order quashing the ESB’s decision to issue wayleave notices in relation to the access of their land.
In a draft development plan, Eirgrid says upgrades to the line are required due to constraints on the transmission network and to secure additional capacity. The refurbishment should extend the 220kV line’s operational life for 35 years, it says.