Big storm brewing over wind debate

Battle lines for the future of the wind farm industry in Donegal are being lined up in advance of the appraisal of the new County Development Plan by all councillors at their meeting in Lifford tomorrow.

Battle lines for the future of the wind farm industry in Donegal are being lined up in advance of the appraisal of the new County Development Plan by all councillors at their meeting in Lifford tomorrow.

Fears have been expressed in Glenties that the future of their tourist industry is in jeopardy following the decision of County Manager, Seamus Neely, not to recommend the removal of the tidy tourist town and its surrounding townlands from the areas zoned as preferred for wind energy development in the plan.

A spokesman for the Glenties Wind Farm Information Group, Ernan O’Donnell, outlined his concerns that visitors to the five-time national tidy town will now remember it for the hedgehog of turbines encircling the town and its strident mountain range rather than the unspoilt blue-hazed mountain scenery that gives the Bluestacks its name and Glenties much needed tourist income.

He also points out that this is an issue with county wide implications given the council’s intention to designate over half the county, 2,300 townlands, as actual areas preferred for wind farms.

The Glenties group highlight that the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DEHLG) in their submission to the council on the new Development Plan are highly critical of the wind energy strategy elements of the proposed development plan. The Department point out that “areas have been identified as preferred for wind energy without an apparent evidence base.” The Department also claim that the council fails to demonstrate how their proposals form part of a wind energy strategy.

For more on this story, see today’s Donegal On Sunday.