NEWS

Councillors to give views on large Donegal wind farm proposal

A 19-turbine wind farm is planned for close to Barnesmore Gap

Staff Reporter

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Staff Reporter

Councillors to give views on large Donegal wind farm proposal

County councillors will meet later this month to discuss proposals for a large wind farm in the Finn Valley.
An application is being made under the Planning and Development Strategic Infrastructure Act to build a 19-turbine wind farm in the townlands of Meenbog, Croaghonagh and Cashelnavean, close to Barnesmore Gap.
The proposed turbines have ground to blade tip heights of up to 156.5 metres .
The application from Cork-based Planree Ltd includes recreation and amenity works, including marked trails, picnic, amenity and play areas, and car parking.
The applications is a strategic infrastructure development which means An Bord Pleanála makes the decision on the application. Donegal County Council can make observations along with other statutory agencies.

A report will given by council planners on the application at the meeting on February 19th and councillors’ views will be added to the response from the council.
Local councillor Patrick McGowan said councillors won’t support a wind farm development where the local community is opposed to it.
“The view of our councillors is that this county is ten times tip height,” he said. “In general what our councillors are saying is that we give as much weight to human habitat as wildlife and fauna.
“Where there is a scattering of houses, we value their opinions as they are there and have planning permission to be there. We do not necessarily oppose all wind farms, but where they are close to houses and where the community does not want them in their community, we will not be supporting them.
“We give as much clout to human habitat as to wildlife or plant habitat. What we will be saying is where the location is not having an adverse effect, then those areas can be considered.”
Finn Valley Wind Action, which has opposed previous applications in the area, said the company “have pursued plans to destroy the iconic view of Barnesmore Gap”.
The group said the application is cause for huge concern. “Should the development get the go-ahead the developer has indicated that in preparation for these turbines, works shall require the disturbance of 246,075 cubic metres of valuable peat within the site,” the group said.
“Coillte are the main landowner for the development and in turn propose to fell over 182 acres of forestry to accommodate the 19 wind turbines which will dominate this iconic landscape.”
Finn Valley Wind Action also stated that “Water pollution would be unavoidable as swathes of trees are felled and peat is unearthed making its way into the river catchments with heavy rain.
“In addition to the peat slippage and felling of trees the developer will blast quarries and ‘borrow pits’ to provide rock for roads ways and turbine bases. Clearly this development carries a huge environmental footprint with significant risks to the public water supply. The application in its entirety is cause for huge concern.”

Planree Ltd said great care has been taken to ensure that the proposal is outside of the iconic view of the Barnesmore Gap. It said the ten times turbine height setback of the proposed turbines from third party houses has also been respected.
“The local community surrounding the proposed project have been exploring ways that the scheme can be designed in such a way that will benefit the local area,” the company said.
“Those opposed to the project during the presentation on the 21st September were in fact largely part of the local community opposed to an old proposed wind farm near the Lismulladuff and the Cross Roads area.
Planree Ltd has abandoned all plans to progress a wind farm proposal in the Lissmullyduff/Cross Roads general area. The reality is that the local community, near the proposed turbines, continue to examine the project and have asked all people with an opinion to meet them, including those opposed to the previous project so that they can examine the facts together and make up their own minds.
“The application includes an amenity park and walks. The playground and its location has been chosen by local residents within 3 km of the turbines. It is part of a greater facility which includes up to 20 km of nature trails built to national standards, a bog walk , a maze, a community events area and interpretation panels along with links into the Barnesmore gap towers and old railway line to support a larger trails project in the area. There will be no health and safety risks that are different from any other amenity area built in rural or urban settings.
“There is a very small number of residents who are consenting to be less than ten times tip height from their homes, but the wider community who will also be affected by this development and they must also have their say.”
The closing date for submissions and observations on the application is Monday, February 19th.