The Glenties Windfarm Information Group, a group formed in response to the application by Straboy Wind Energy Ltd for planning permission for a wind farm close to Glenties Town, have never hidden their concerns for the project.
The proposed project has received a huge number of written objections and continues to cause huge controversy in Glenties and the surrounding areas.
Here spokesman for the group, Michael Quinn, outlines the reasons why so many people are completely opposed to the application.
“As a group we are gravely concerned at the targeting of the town of Glenties and its surrounding townlands for wind farm developments. We believe that such an inappropriately sited development, as that proposed at Straboy, is incongruous with the character and landscape of the area; the tourism led businesses of the town, our Gaeltacht culture, local amenity and any reasonable assessment of proper and sustainable development of the area.
An Bord Pleanála Appeal – up to 79 formal written objections
It is well-known that the decision to grant permission for this wind farm by Donegal County Council Ref 11/30127, to the Dublin-based applicant has been appealed to An Bord Pleánala (Ref PL05B.240166). The case is the subject of fifteen separate appeals which of itself is a significantly high number. We have also learned that this appeal is the subject of a further sixty-four observations which is an EXCEPTIONAL number for a development in a rural town. I also understand that several of these observations to An Bord Pleánala are made in joint or several names meaning that a significant proportion of Glenties’ adult population have formally recorded their concerns regarding the proposed development.
We think this is the largest number of observations ever to An Bord Pleanála on wind farms.
When one considers that the cost of an appeal is €220 and the cost of an observation is €50, the fact that so many local people have submitted either an appeal or observation, in these stringent financial times, is a clear indication of the depth of anger and disbelief felt locally at the granting of permission for this wind farm by Donegal County Council and the surrounding procedural and process morass.
Health and set-back issues
Regarding the health issues for those living in close proximity to wind farms it should be noted that the Council are currently involved in a consultation process with the public regarding the Draft County Development Plan 2012-2018
The council have published documents relating to the material alterations to the draft County Development plan and these can be viewed online on the Councils website. One interesting aspect is contained in material alteration 76 which reads as follows:
Material Alteration 76:
To amend the technical standards contained in the Development and Technical Standards no: 9.6.5(a) from a 500m to 1km setback. If the proposed amendment is accepted 9.6.5(a) will read as follows:
Wind Turbines must not be located within:
a) 1km of any dwelling (except where the written consent of those persons affected by this condition is given)
This in effect if adopted means that no wind turbine could be placed within one kilometre of any dwelling unless the owner agrees. The proposed amendment to a 1km setback is an improvement on the current 500metre minimum, however, a 2km set-back is an internationally recognised best-practice minimum in order to protect public health. Our group are also concerned that permitting householder consent within these limits is not prudent as often the lure of the Euro offered by Wind farm developers can sometimes and indeed too often override sensible decision making by landowners. It is our view that any consent in these matters should be formally recorded and witnessed with the home owner having being fully informed of the potential health risks involved.
Submissions or observations regarding the proposed material alterations to the draft County Donegal Development Plan 2012-2018 and associated reports can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org on or before 30th March 2012.