A section of those at the protest on Friday. Photo Tommy Curran
About 70 people gathered at Údarás na Gaeltachta offices in Derrybeg on Friday to protest plans for a 123.5-metre-high wind turbine on the Gaoth Dobhair business park.
“Today was about trying to keep up the pressure on Údarás na Gaeltachta, because at the end of the day it’s their land, they have the say-so whether this is built on their land or not,” Gearóid Ó Maonaigh, chairperson of the local working group, Stad an Tuirbín Gaoithe, said after the protest.
The group is also encouraging local people, especially those who live near the proposed site, to make submissions to Donegal County Council in relation to the planning application for the turbine. Fifty objections have been completed to date, organisers said.
The group has said they are opposed to the turbine on the basis of its scale and size, among other issues.
Lir Energy Ltd, a company based in Letterfrack, Co. Galway, have applied to Donegal County Council to erect the single wind turbine at the Údarás site in Gaoth Dobhair.
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh of Altan, who was raised near the site of the proposed turbine and whose mother still lives there, was among the protesters. “By looking at the scale of this turbine it’s going to take over the whole beauty of this area,” she said. “We’re trying to entice people into Gaoth Dobhair, not send them away.”
Mairéad said she supported alternative energy but said the proposed wind turbine “is not taking into account the scenic beauty of this area. It’s ridiculous.”
While protesters, including local residents and public representatives, stood before the Údarás offices, Maria Coyle of the local committee, Stad an Tuirbín Gaoithe, presented a letter to Mícheál Mac Giolla Esapuig, regional manager of Údarás, asking Údarás to stop the process by withdrawing any permission for the turbine to be built on their land.
A local woman, Aisling Gallagher, who lives near the site of the proposed turbine, said, “It’s going to be on my doorstep.”
She said, “Put it up in the hills and leave it where it should be. We’re not stopping it. We want it away from residents. It’s not right that it should be where children are growing up.
“It’s not fair,” she said. “It’s really not fair.”
The local curate, Father Brian Ó Fearraigh, said, “We’re here to oppose the building of this monstrosity of a structure in the heart of our community.”
He said he did not oppose wind turbines, but said the development was not welcome at the proposed site. Father Brian and others at the protest were also critical of the lack of public consultation in relation to the proposal.
In a lengthy statement issued on Friday that detailed Údarás’ exploration of renewable energy options for the Gaoth Dobhair Business Park, a Údarás spokesperson said, “Although Údarás consented to giving Lir Energy permission to apply for planning permission for a renewable energy project on the organisation’s property, it can be confirmed that there is no contractual agreement between Údarás and Lir Energy in regards to this project.”
The spokesperson said it was not normal practice or custom for Údarás to have any dealings with applications that have a direct connection with the Gaeltacht authority.