Futureproof Clare win High Court Case to prevent expansion of Aughinish Alumina

Futureproof Clare (FPC) have won a High Court Case to prevent expansion of Co.Limerick based aluminium refinery Aughinish Alumina.

The grassroots environmental group 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. 

An Bord Pleanala (ABP) conceded the case on the basis of one of the points in FPC’s statement of grounds which noted the failure of ABP to take into account An Taisce’s submission to the board.

Eoin Brady, solicitor of FP Logue representing FPC explained:

“This is a significant result for Futureproof Clare, who had considerable concerns with regard to the process by which An Bord Pleanála granted permission for what would in effect be an extension in the duration of the Aughinish Alumina facility, with an increase in the associated environmental emissions and waste created and deposited on the banks of the Shannon Estuary. 

It 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”.  

“This is a hugely important result, because it’s the first time that the operations of Rusal at Aughinish Alumina have ever been struck down in the Courts,” said Sinéad Shehan of FPC. “However, while Rusal are still operating, we cannot rest.

We believe that there are more serious environmental issues around the operation of the refinery that need to be challenged and we intend to hold Rusal, and those responsible for overseeing and consenting their continued operations, to account.”

According to Emma Karran of FPC, “Aughinish Alumina has been in operation for around 40 years and during this time has produced millions of tonnes of environmental waste and laid them on the banks of the River Shannon in close proximity to a Special Area of Conservation. 

At this time of environmental crisis with the awareness of the increasing problem of river pollution in Ireland, we cannot stand back and silently witness the continued build up of bauxite waste within metres of the Shannon estuary. 

If the refinery resubmits the application to expand its waste disposal area, we will continue to resist it. 

The proper course of action now for Rusal and the various competent authorities is to wind down operations at the facility and begin the proper remediation of the massive waste stockpile and the contaminated land on Aughinish island.”

The case has been adjourned for two weeks while the parties discuss remittal of the application to ABP.