14th April 2015
Press Release from Mr. Christopher O’Keeffe
Christopher O’Keeffe v Kilkenny County Council: Settlement of High Court Proceedings.
Christopher O’Keeffe welcomes the settlement of High Court Proceedings surrounding the Kilkenny Central Access Scheme Bridge and the Ossory Pedestrian Bridge. The settlement provides confirmation that:
1. Kilkenny County Council will work in compliance with permissions, specifically using long reach machinery from the bank of the river.
2. The nature of this case was in the Public Interest.
On the 14th April, 2015 the High Court Ordered in respect of this case;
“The Defendant shall pay the sum of €50,000 and VAT thereon @ 23% (€11,500), being a total of €61,500 by way of contribution to the costs of the Plaintiff (to include professional fees, outlays or otherwise) within four weeks of the execution of these terms of settlement.”
Christopher O’Keeffe notes that the terms of Settlement make specific reference to the original Panning conditions laid down by An Bord Pleanala and further to section 5 of the submission made by Kilkenny County Council dated the 15th day of December 2014;
“The Defendant continuing to construct the development, the subject of An Bord Pleanala Ref 10.HA0014, in accordance with the modified plans and particulars for the Central Access Scheme for the City of Kilkenny, as submitted to An Bord Pleanala on the 31st day of January 2011 and the mitigation measures (encompassing the environmental commitments) set out in the revised Environmental Impact Statement (January 2011) also submitted on the same date and in further accordance with the submission to An Bord Pleanala by the Defendant dated the 15th day of December 2014, except as may otherwise be required in order to comply with conditions 2 to 4 of the An Bord Pleanala Approval 10HA.0014”;
In agreeing to this settlement Christopher O’Keeffe has acquired the High Court sanctioned undertaking that he sought from the outset, and that forced him to take this action. Kilkenny County Council will now work from the riverbank, using long reach machinery, in order to mitigate environmental damage. In the Order of costs the Court acknowledges the public interest and environmental protective nature of this case.
The settlement negates the need for a lengthy and costly High Court hearing, saving the people of Kilkenny considerable monies, in the event that Kilkenny County Council lost this case in the High Court, particularly where Kilkenny County Council made a choice to force the most expensive form of hearing.
Mr O’Keeffe regrets, that despite his best efforts, it was not possible to establish this method of working, as the accepted one, much earlier in these proceedings, thus avoiding all costs. He further regrets that there is currently no other avenue for citizens to pursue, in situations such as this, other than costly court actions, as there is no Ombudsman or Regulator in place that can deal with such concerns in a timely and cost neutral manner.