Electricity infrastructure has been responsible for some of the most significant court decisions and changes in planning practice in recent years, as the full rigour of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) processes were applied to electricity infrastructure projects.
Large scale electricity transmission projects are notoriously contentious, but Ireland is not alone is seeing significant opposition to such infrastructure. Smaller-scale electricity infrastructure including electricity substations, battery storage projects and even underground cables, have also attracted much opposition in recent years as they are often seen as enabling infrastructure for other types of development.
Practitioners in the industry are now acutely aware of whether any electricity infrastructure could be deemed integral to a project requiring EIA or AA and the implications of that on the need for planning permission. Project applicants are also increasingly aware of the need for projects to satisfy the provisions of S.182A, and also the need for other consents, whether they be landowner-related or such as road opening licences for underground works along public roads.
MKO have devised the planning strategy for a wide range of large-scale electricity transmission projects, and with environmental impact assessment and ecology as complimentary core company competencies, are extremely well positioned to assist clients secure robust consents for their projects.
Electricity Infrastructure – Key Services
We manage the entire planning permission application process, or provide key inputs and planning advice. From advice at the pre-planning stage, through to preparing and managing the planning application or responding to further information requests, we help applicants or their project teams navigate a project through the planning process.
We can either lead the planning-phase design team or are equally happy to play out part as a team member. Our most experienced planners lead the consultations with the Planning Authorities, from the initial concept feasibility discussions right through to agreeing pre-commencement compliance requirements.
We project manage client, design team and specialist inputs, and meet our client’s deadlines. Our EIA experience spans every industry sector. Projects and clients benefit from the combined experience of all our company’s staff, who have refined our EIA knowledge and practices over decades of work in this field.
We prepare comprehensive and fit-for-purpose Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA) as either stand-alone reports or for use as chapters of an EIS/EIAR. The scope of each EcIA is tailored to the specific client’s requirements of their site and project.
They can be targeted at a specific ecological subject matter of relevance, or span the full spectrum of ecology, from terrestrial habitats, flora and fauna, to freshwater, marine and avian ecology. Our EcIA are solutions-focused, proposing ways to mitigate potential impacts rather than just identify problems. Our clients benefit from the EcIA experience we bring to their projects, from having worked on some of the country’s largest infrastructure projects.
The requirements of the EU habitats directive are well known to us, and we prepare Appropriate Assessment Screening Reports (AASR) as Stage 1 assessment/reports or Natura Impact Statements (NIS) as Stage 2 assessment/reports.
Our expert knowledge of the requirements, pitfalls and nuances of habitats directive assessments has been honed by completing many hundred such assessments/reports over the last decade. Our knowledge of the planning system, makes us acutely aware of the planning implications of conducting a Stage 2 assessment for developments that otherwise would not require planning permission. Given our experience, we can advise clients very quickly on whether a Stage 1 “screening” will suffice of whether a full Stage 2 “assessment” is required.
Strategic Infrastructure Developments require strategic planning advisors. In this role, we help manage planning risks, reduce application timeframes and maximise the chance of a successful outcome.
Starting with the initial pre-determination consultation stage, through to SID determination and then on to preparation and lodgement of an SID application, MKO have experience of every stage of this process across dozens of projects. We lead the pre-determination consultation stage interactions with An Bord Pleanála. We compile the determination requests. We prepare and submit the SID applications, ensuring full compliance with all legislative and technical requirements. We help clients and projects through the SID process.
We devise and advise on project planning strategy, helping clients determine the best course of action to take with project phasing, timing and application approach. This strategy advice can be provided on a project level to help chart the right course for a project, or at a strategic level to ensure the necessary and correct policies are in place to support a future project.