An Bord Pleanala indicated an extended time period is necessary to ensure that all interested parties are afforded a reasonable time frame to address their concerns at the hearing.
It is believed that this is the first full oral hearing on a wind farm development in the country by An Bord Pleanala.
There was considerable anxiety last week over with issues arising in the notification of the proceedings and afterwards correspondence from An Bord Pleanála which appeared to confirm that the hearing would only last for three days.
It was indicated by An Bord Pleanala that normal practice was to hear the applicant first and then the local authority that made the contested decision.
Afterwards the inspector and Bord officials would then do their best to facilitate others, meaning the affected community, of which there were 15 appellants and 64 observers.
GWiG said they were incensed that a situation could arise where the appellants and local observers may have had less than one day to articulate their concerns.
The decision of the Bord to facilitate a full hearing of all concerned has been welcomed by the group.
However they still take issue with the failure of An Bord Pleanala to provide for a prior day of registration which would have given all parties a clear indication of the length of time others would take at the hearing and would provide a time frame for the schedule of appearance of witnesses.
This is regarded as normal practice and a very important requirement where the group can plan for the appearances of local witnesses who must arrange time off work and also, very importantly, they can arrange to have their outside experts travel to Glenties on the day and at the time that they were due to appear.
The group says it will continue to pursue this issue with the Bord.
“Opposition to this development is based primarily on the impact of such a massive industrial development so close to the town of Glenties in a valued landscape.
“The concern of the community is that this will have a detrimental impact on the local environment and detract from the areas intrinsic value as a place rich in natural beauty and cultural heritage.
“The area depends for its future prospects on the preservation of its natural assets as an attractive destination for tourism.
“We also value what the area has to offer in terms of wildlife and its attraction for recreational tourism.
“The group continues to seek support to protect this area from being lost for future generations. Oral hearings are costly but this rural community has no choice but to make a stand and bring to the attention of the planning board the real impacts that are associated with a development of this scale and nature in this sensitive area,” said a spokesman.
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