A Chara/ Dear Friends,
Coiste Timpeallachta Ghaoth Bearra, the Gweebarra Conservation Group, is holding a ‘Gather on the Gweebarra!’ at the Gweebarra Bridge from 11.00am to 2.00pm on Saturday, July 10th, 2010.
The Gweebarra River Valley and Estuary and the surrounding townlands is a unique landscape which supports many protected species and habitats. These include wild deer and salmon, a 500 strong common seal population and several protected bird species like Golden Eagles, Northern Bullfinches, Grouse and Corncrakes. As such the Gweebarra is a Natura 2000 site and an EU Designated Area of Conservation which means it is supposed to be protected by law from developments which would have a negative environmental impact.
However the Gweebarra, its unique environment and its people, are now under threat from metal prospectors, high voltage power lines and industrial wind farms which carry health concerns for the local community and would impact negatively on their livelihoods and homes.
In 2000 and in 2009 An Bord Pleanála Inspectors agreed with local objectors that a high voltage power line should not go over ground in this unique area but in November, 2009 the Directors of the Bord overruled their own Inspector and granted planning permission to ESB and Eirgrid to erect a high voltage power line across Special Areas of Conservation and protected habitats in 100 of Donegal’s most scenic townlands, 97 of which are in the Donegal Gaeltacht.
Local environmentalists been campaigning for over a decade to have this high voltage power line ducted alongside the N56 route instead of being erected cross country and over ground. We have argued from the outset that this power line is not to bring power into Donegal but is to take it out from the many existing and planned wind farms in the county.
As soon as planning was granted for this power line 50 applications to build new wind farms in south and west Donegal were received by Donegal County Council. The State plans to increase wind energy production in Donegal to 690MW+ in ten years, representing a land grab of over 3,000 hectares, which will mean that virtually every hill top in Donegal would be covered in wind turbines and the attendant pylons and high voltage power lines would destroy the landscape and endanger our health.
Donegal already produces more wind energy than any other county in Ireland at 264MW and there is no regulation of how much should be produced in each county. At present 9 counties have no wind turbines at all and these include the most populated counties where people do not want turbines blighting their views or disturbing their sleep.
ESB and Bord Gais are falsely advertising themselves as ‘green energy’ companies when their practices are anything but green. How can excavating bog land and pouring 240 metres of concrete (40 lorry loads) for EACH wind turbine into holes on the top of mountains and in Special Areas of Conservation be called ‘green’?
This practice, added to the pollution created in the making of the concrete, means that more C02 is released into the atmosphere when a turbine is erected than the turbines will ever offset. Wind energy is a ‘green’ fallacy and we cannot allow the ESB, Eirgrid and the wind companies to destroy Donegal’s scenery and endanger our health solely for profit.
In March, 2010 Eamon Ryan, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, granted a prospecting license in 50 townlands around the Gweebarra, including the River bed and the Bay, to Mytillus Minerals Ltd. If metals were found, cyanide could be used to extract the metals in open cast mines which would pollute the river, local lakes and household wells.
Tourism is Donegal’s No.1 employer and with unemployment at 21% in Donegal nothing should be allowed to threaten the County’s growing tourism economy. The human impact is too great for the 15,000 local residents upon whom the power line would directly impact and the many thousands more who would have their land and property devalued by between 30% and 80% by being within view of the power line and the wind turbines respectively while the Gweebarra region would be decimated if mining were added to the list of environmental threats.
We are asking ‘Why are the wind, electricity and mining companies allowed to thwart the laws protecting the environment for profit while the rest of us must abide by the law? And why should the population of Donegal be forced to bear the burden of producing more than half the projected wind energy production in Ireland by 2020?’ This is an environmental injustice on one community which is illegal under International Law.
We intend to stand on the pavements on either side of the Bridge with placards voicing our opinions on the threats to our local environment, our health and our human rights. In this way we hope to alert more people to the threats to our unique environment and way of life.
You are urged to attend the Gather on the Gweebarra!
If you can help design or make banners or placards, put up posters or print leaflets please email GweebarraConservation@gmail.com as soon as possible.
Regards, Patricia Sharkey
for Gweebarra Conservation Group