Belfast Telegraph

GAA Casement Park stadium row residents group 'won't face crippling bill if it loses legal battle'

By Alan Erwin

A residents group locked in a High Court battle to halt a new 38,000 seater GAA stadium at Casement Park will not face a crippling legal bill if it loses the case.

Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents' Association was today granted a protective costs order (PCO) limiting potential liability for opposition fees to £10,000.

Members of the body said without the financial safeguard their challenge could not have continued.

With the case listed for a four-day hearing in September, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has also been granted the right to participate in proceedings as main funder of the £76 million project.

The Association has self-financed its bid to judicially review planning chiefs for giving the green light to the redevelopment of Casement Park.

It claims the scale of the proposed stadium is unjustified and too big for the neighbourhood.

According to the residents' case facilities on that scale will block out light in surrounding homes, reduce the quality of life for those living close by and compound traffic problems in the area.

They further contend that planning chiefs should have assessed it as a mixed-use facility also capable of holding concerts and other public events.

In court today the Association was granted a PCO under special regulations for environmental cases.

A judge also agreed to limit the respondent Department of the Environment's legal costs liability to £35,000 should it lose the action.

It emerged that DCAL will be able to put in written submissions ahead of the hearing as an interested party.

Outside the court Dominic McSherry, vice-chairman of the residents' association, said it was vital that the protection was granted.

He said: "We are not able to access legal aid and had to self-finance this as a community group.

"A decision not to grant a PCO would have been ruinous; we simply can't afford to pay the costs and this has essentially allowed us to progress with our case and have our concerns addressed."

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