BY OUR GLENTIES CORRESPONDENT: Residents of the small town of Glenties, known only vaguely to the rest of Ireland as the venue for the annual McGill Summer School, were aghast at the granting of planning permission last month for 22 super-giant wind turbines, many within sight and sound of the centre of their town.
In particular they are now outraged at the planning decision. They believe there are damaging long term effects on the local visitor-dependent enterprises and the disruption, social and environmental cost to their community.
There, we believe, at play some questionable national political objectives and maximising future income than on protecting the interests of residents, taxpayers, local businesses and the unique character of the region.
Most of the objectors say they are not against wind farms as such, and certainly not resentful of the “windfall” cash for the dozen graziers and local farmers who would get rental income from allowing turbines on their land.
But they say there are plenty of more remote and exposed barren hill tops in Donegal, well away from built-up communities to choose from – whereas almost everybody is strongly opposed to this application because it is sited less than two miles from the town’s Main street.
These will not be graceful windmills gently rotating on faraway horizons, they say, but 100 metre monsters looming over the town in full view from every direction, whose presence and proximity will dismay and deter visitors and eventually damage the livelihoods of every shop, tradesperson, builder, craftsperson and resident in the vicinity.
One objector said: “Speaking as one of the householders living directly below the proposed line of tubines, we are all very upset that some of these monstrous turbines will be less than 1,000 yards away from our homes.
“Our peaceful enjoyment of this wild, rugged and lovely area will be ruined, local jobs will become even fewer, our health affected and our property values forever blighted – yet we have had not so much as a letter or phone call from the developers, let alone any explanation or offer of compensation.”
The objectors have also pointed out, the proposed wind farm will bring no benefit to Glenties, as revenues and profits will flow out of the county into the pockets of the developers and the speculators backing them and so the revelation that the Sorne Hill wind farm (rumoured to be by the same developer) at Buncrana, Donegal, was sold to Bord Gais for a reported 100 million Euro (of taxpayers money) shows there’s money to be made.
Tensions also exist because whilst most of the locals are privately united in their opposition to the scheme there are some who are hesitant to speak out for fear of offending the handful of their neighbour landowners.
Most are at a loss to understand why this proposed development, so near to the town, has got so far. They are now appealing against their decision to An Bord an Pleanala.
Essentially the case for the complainants rests on health issues, as well as what constitutes a consultation process. Several of the approved turbines are so close to nearby to inhabited dwellings, that for the occupiers there are likely to be a long term health effect from audible and sub-audible turbine noise. as the local GP has been tirelessly pointing out.
Whatever the outcome of the An Bord Pleanala enquiry, some say, there are fears that the beautiful town of Glenties and its hinterland will change forever.