Donegal County Councillors have today voted to seek changes to wind energy policies in a proposed variation to the County Development Plan.
An in-depth discussion took place on the issue at today’s county council meeting.
The proposed variation by the Planning Authority deals with a wind energy policy framework on the sustainable development of Donegal’s wind energy resource.
The wording of the variation was rejected by a vote of 24 Councillors in favour of amending and 8 against.
Sinn Féin Cllr Gary Doherty proposed the changes to the variation, citing community concerns, the landslide disaster at Meenbog Wind Farm last year and the ecological impact that occurred. Donegal, he said, has reached ‘saturation point’ for onshore windfarms.
Cllr Doherty proposed that the proposed variation should be changed to retain a policy where wind turbines must meet a set back distance of ten times the tip height from residential properties. Councillors later expanded the amendment to state that the set back distance should also apply for noise and flicker.
Cllr Doherty also proposed that areas in the Lifford-Stranorlar Municipal District deemed at risk of landslide are deemed “not normally permissible for wind farm development.” This request was then expanded county wide, by the suggestion of Cllr Marie Therese Gallagher.
The vote was passed. A second vote was proposed by Cllr Anthony Molloy and Cllr Frank McBrearty to seek the protection of Freshwater Pearl Mussel and rivers. These measures were already provided for in the Planning Authority’s document.
Councillors were told that several more steps will be taken in the process before the proposed variation is put out to public consultation.