There’s been a mixed reaction to news that An Bord Pleanala has approved plans for 13 industrial wind turbines near Glenties. Each of the proposed turbines has a hub height of 80m and a blade diameter of 90m.
Businessman PJ Molloy had originally applied for permission to build a total of 35 turbines across ten townlands just north of Glenties.
Donegal County Council initially reduced the number to 19. However the Department of the Environment expressed concern that the proposed development “could significantly damage or destroy” the habitats of freshwater pearl mussel, Atlantic salmon and otters – all protected species under the EU habitats directive.
Environmental charity An Taisce said the construction of the windfarm could also lead to peat instability and part of the site would be susceptible to landslides. In its decision, ABP voted 5 to 2 to approve just 13 turbines instead of 19, in order to “reduce the risk of habitat degradation and environmental pollution associated with development in these locations”.
A spokesperson for the Gweebarra Conservation Group criticised the decision, saying: “No one would sanction felling trees in the rain forest to erect wind turbines yet this is precisely what the Government is doing by giving tax incentives to private investors to destroy our hills and bogs. The boglands in these Gaeltacht townlands . . . are just as important as the rain forests in absorbing CO2. These are precious habitats that support a large variety of protected species as well as Irish-speaking families who have lived in this beautiful valley for generations.”
The GCG also expressed concern about health dangers associated with the high-voltage power lines needed to transmit the electricity generated by wind farms. “These power lines are proven to increase cancer rates if located within 2km of people’s homes.”
Another objector, however, expressed satisfaction with the outcome. Gerry McKenna also said the reduced number of turbines would be “well out of sight of the beautiful landscape in the area.”