Categories

Alerts Home
Archives

  • August 2017
  • July 2017
  • May 2017
  • April 2017
  • March 2017
  • February 2017
  • ALL
    RSS

    Add NWW Alerts to your site (click here)

    Sign up for daily updates

    Keep Wind Watch online and independent!

    Donate $10

    Donate $5

    News Watch

    Selected Documents

    All Documents

    Research Links

    Press Releases

    FAQs

    Publications & Products

    Photos & Graphics

    Videos

    Allied Groups

    Source:  David Simpson, Inishowen Wind Energy Awareness Group

    Wild Atlantic Way under threat from developers  

    Source:  David Simpson, Inishowen Wind Energy Awareness Group | Action alerts, Environment, Information, Ireland

    First challenge to Wild Atlantic Way – barely one month after its establishment – could set precedent for wind farm/other development on route of the Wild Atlantic Way.

    OUTLINE – THE FACTS

    A wind farm of two turbines has permission, following an appeal to An Bord Pleanala, to be built on the route of the Wild Atlantic Way. The developer has recently put in an amendment (1450014) to increase the height by 24% to 132 metres.

    Donegal County Council refused permission for the height increase. Their grounds for refusal highlighted two areas: Wild Atlantic Way: Scenic Driving Routes and Donegal County Council’s Tourism Policy. The public road passing Crockbrack Hill is now identified as a Scenic Driving Section of the Wild Atlantic Way. Scenic Driving Sections are selected ‘to provide the visitor with opportunities to see and experience the best land and seascapes along the route spine’ (My italics).

    Council policy supports the need for protection. Tourism Policy (TOU-P-3) states: “not to permit development proposals which would detract from the visual quality/amenity on either the approach roads to, or views to be had from significant tourist attractions” (My italics).

    The developers have now put in a new Appeal to An Bord Pleanala (PL O5E.243207; to view the Appeal go to Donegal County Council Planning on line: 1450368) asking them to overturn the Council’s refusal.

    In their appeal they take a very narrow, restricted view of the Wild Atlantic Way. The developer states: “The Discovery Point at Kinnagoe Bay represents the coastal views as can be seen from the public car park that serves the beach”. They argue that as the site of the farm is inland and cannot be seen from the car park then it can be developed further. The permitted wind farm is already going to be visible from the route of the Wild Atlantic Way, even before this appeal for an increase in the height. The WAW is about the route not the destination. It ignores the lived experience of the moment when you first see the sea and travel down the Long Glen road to reach it. Crockbrack Hill sits right in the middle of this view and the developer argues that two turbines at 132 metres (twice the height of Letterkenny Cathedral) won’t adversely impact on the visual amenity. A local resident said: “It is called the Wild Atlantic Way, not the Wild Atlantic Point. It is called Way because the experience of travelling on it is about the journey and not about individual, separated points”.

    The developer makes the following claim in his appeal: “In the first instance it is not considered that the purpose of the Wild Atlantic Way is to sterilise all lands from future development along the western coastline of Ireland from Donegal to Cork and all places in between” (p 20 of Appeal document).

    At the moment the only areas protected from wind farms are those with European designations (SAE and Bird – based on endangered species – why do we have to wait till something is endangered until it is protected?). Local Councils can only use the criteria of Visual Amenity to reject a development. This leaves the rest of the country wide open for wind farm development. This is surely the wrong way round. Instead of saying lets leave everything open apart from designated areas. We should be saying where is sensitive and needs to be protected, and then with prudence open the rest for consideration. Donegal Council is carrying out a Landscape Character Assessment in order to identify sensitive areas that do not have European designations.

    “What is wrong with the idea of protecting an internationally recognised, €10 million euro tourist route from inappropriate, intrusive development? What is wrong with protecting our greatest assets from inappropriate development?” said another local resident.

    Threat to Tourism

    The proliferation of wind farms has the potential to make Ireland ‘sterile’ – slowly tourists will seek wilder, unspoilt, undeveloped landscapes elsewhere. A new Scottish survey (of 1,000 people) by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland has found that two thirds of people think turbines are making Scotland a less appealing place to visit. Four out of five called for ‘buffer zones’ around areas of outstanding beauty. Seventy three percent said they would choose accommodation without a wind farm view compared to five percent who said they wanted to see a turbine. The MCS says the findings are a ‘stark warning’. (Telegraph, 18th March 2014.)

    Observations on the Appeal

    It is possible to make an Observation to An Bord Pleanala about the Appeal. If you think that the Wild Atlantic Way should be protected from inappropriate, intrusive development, please write in an objection to the Appeal.

    Letters need to state that you are asking An Bord Pleanala to reject the Appeal (PLO5E.243207) on the following grounds:

    • The public road passing Crockbrack Hill is now identified as a Scenic Driving Section of the Wild Atlantic Way.
    • Scenic Driving Sections are selected ‘to provide the visitor with opportunities to see and experience the best land and seascapes along the route spine’.
    • Council policy supports the need for protection. Tourism Policy (TOU-P-3) states: “not to permit development proposals which would detract from the visual quality/amenity on either the approach roads to, or views to be had from significant tourist attractions”.

    Send your letters, with a €50 cheque, to An Bord Pleanala, 64 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1.

    BACKGROUUND AND COMMENTARY

    The paint is barely dry on the signs for the new Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) and the tourists have yet to arrive and a wind farm developer is already

    • claiming WAW could sterilise the west coast
    • challenging the need to protect the WAW route
    • looking to set a precedent to get exemption from protecting the route of the Wild Atlantic Way for development.

    What is wrong with protecting our assets? Ireland already has a disgraceful history of giving away our assets. Before the tourists have arrived international finance wants to strip our assets while we pay green taxes to subsidize them while they do it. They will leave the country once the subsidies stop.


    It’s called the Wild Atlantic Way not the Wild Industrialised Way

    It’s called the Wild Atlantic Way, not the Wave our Assets Away

    The WAW is not the end of development. Why not see the WAW as an opportunity to work with local communities rather than exploit local land? Why not use their expertise as developers to work with local communities to develop new tourist businesses on the route itself (cafes, tourist centres, exhibitions, tours)? Unfortunately they want to exploit the land for their own profit not for local people. The Celtic Tiger is not dead it has moved to new territory – our land and wind farms.

    Background

    The developer put in an appeal to An Bord Pleanala on 31st March 2014 to secure an increase in the height of the turbines to 132 metres, a 24% increase, on the route of the WAW. This is just over four weeks since the launch of the WAW on 27th February 2014. The history of this development is as follows:

    • Original Application for two turbines made on 9th January 2012
    • Planning Application: 12/70002 made by Harley Newman (4A Riverside Office Park, Letterkenny) on behalf of Declan Clarke (landowner)
    • Council Turned Down Application on 1st March 2012
      This decision was taken on the grounds that the wind farm would:

      • ‘be a discordant and incongruous artificial intrusion on the natural landscape’
      • ‘mitigate against its value, significance and potential as a tourism asset’
      • ‘inadequacies of the ‘bird’ surveying carried out’

      Ref. No. 12/70002 – County Manager’s Order No. 2012PI009

    • Applicant Appeals to An Bord Pleannala: June 2012
    • Donegal Council repeats its view that the application should be turned
      down: 2nd August 2012 (1270002/0093)
    • An Bord Pleannala’s own Inspector visits the site and recommends that the
      appeal be turned down
    • An Bord Pleannala decides to go against its inspector’s recommendation and upholds the appeal: 13th December 2012 (PL05A.240394)
    • Application to increase height by 24% to 132 metres (1450014) turned down by Council.

    The public road passing Crockbrack Hill is now identified as a Scenic Driving Section of the Wild Atlantic Way. Scenic Driving Sections are selected “to provide the visitor with opportunities to see and experience the best land and seascapes along the route spine” (My italics). Council policy supports the need for protection. Tourism Policy (TOU-P-3) states: “not to permit development proposals which would detract from the visual quality/amenity on either the approach roads to, or views to be had from significant tourist attractions” (My italics).

    The developer is now appealing to An Bord Pleanala to uphold their application to increase height of turbines by 24% (PL O5E.243207).

    Issues in the Irish Planning System

    The Irish planning system is a system that makes it hard for ordinary local people to object or challenge decisions. Twenty euros to submit to a Council planning application. Fifty euros to submit to an An Bord Pleanala appeal. Thousands of euro to challenge an An Bord Pleanala decision through a Judicial Review.

    Donegal County Council responded to local residents’ outcry that the developer had put notice of original application in the Irish Times (Jan 9th 2012). They passed a resolution that made it mandatory to put Notices in Local Papers. Central government told them they did not have the right to make this change to planning regulations and so they had to withdraw it

    This developer has used this to put 6 notices in national papers (only once in a local which was about a small, insignificant aspect of the development).

    The same planning regulations for notifying the public apply for a twenty six turbine wind farm as for a two-bedroom bungalow: namely a Notice (item in national/local paper) and a sign on a gate.

    The planning system allows a developer wins an appeal at An Bord Pleanala for a specified application, he can then submit as many amendments as he likes that change any and all aspects of the original application.

    An Bord Pleanala has meetings in an office in Dublin to decide local cases. In the UK, the Planning Inspector who visits the site of an appeal and meets with all relevant parties on the ground makes the final decision.

    The planning system can only ‘strongly recommend’ that developers consult with local communities. Practise is way behind that of other European countries: “proud to be European but not too keen to act like one”.

    The planning system deals in restricted, defined areas using minute, limited criteria to make decisions. A good example of this is the approach of the appeal to how to make a decision on the impact of a wind farm on the route of the Wild Atlantic Way. The developer states:
    “The Discovery Point at Kinnagoe Bay represents the coastal views as can be seen from the public car park that serves the beach”. They argue that as the site is inland and cannot be seen from the car park then it can be developed further. He completely ignores the lived experience of the moment when you first see the sea and travel down the Long Glen road to reach Kinnagoe Bay. Crockbrack Hill sits right in the middle of this view and the developer argues that two turbines at 132 metres (twice the height of Letterkenny Cathedral wont adversely impact on the visual amenity.

    “It is called the Wild Atlantic Way, not the Wild Atlantic Point”. It is called Way because the experience of travelling on it is about the journey and not about individual, separated points.

    Developer’s Appeal raises issue of Sterilisation

    The developer makes the following claim in his appeal: “In the first instance it is not considered that the purpose of the Wild Atlantic Way is to sterilise all lands from future development along the western coastline of Ireland from Donegal to Cork and all places in between” (p 20 of Appeal document).

    Leaving aside the obvious scare-mongering tactic that this kind of comment is, lets look at sterilisation.

    This might actually be a good idea. At the moment the only areas protected from wind farms are those with European designations (SAE and Bird – based on endangered species – why do we have to wait till something is endangered until it is protected?). Local Councils can only use the criteria of Visual Amenity to reject a development. This leaves the rest of the country wide open for wind farm development. This is surely the wrong way round. Instead of saying lets leave everything open apart from designated areas. We should be asking where is sensitive and needs protection. Then with prudence open the rest for consideration. Donegal Council has started a Landscape Character Assessment as a way to identify sensitive areas.

    What is wrong with the idea of protecting an internationally recognised, multi million euro tourist route from inappropriate, intrusive development?

    What is wrong with protecting our assets? Before the tourists have arrived international finance wants to strip our assets while we pay green taxes to subsidize them while they do it. They will take their money else where once the subsidies stop.

    Sterilisation has two meanings:

    • making an object free from unwanted live bacteria or other organisms
    • making a person unable to reproduce

    What is sterile are the ways that planning makes decisions and the rooms that they do it in.

    They have been made sterile from the spirit of the land.

    They have been made sterile from the lived experiences of local people.

    Developers are sterilised from consulting with and working with and giving benefit to the very local communities that they intend to develop with wind farms

    Some radical protestors might argue that it is development itself which should be sterilised. Imagine if it had been sterilised from building too many ghost estates and too many empty holiday homes. (Why can the government not work out how many houses are needed and then allow developers to only build that many? Why can they not work out how many wind turbines are needed for Ireland and then disallow any further proliferation of unneeded wind farms?)

    What needs sterilising is the government’s desire to inseminate thousands of wind farms across Ireland for the benefit of the few.

    The proliferation of wind farms has the potential to make Ireland sterile – slowly tourists will seek wilder, unspoilt, undeveloped landscapes elsewhere. A new Scottish survey by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland has found that two thirds of people think turbines are making Scotland a less appealing place to visit. Four out of five called for ‘buffer zones’ around areas of outstanding beauty. Seventy three percent said they would choose accommodation without a wind farm view compared to five percent who said they wanted to see a turbine. The MCS says the findings are a ‘stark warning’. (Telegraph, 18th March 2014.)

    Conclusion

    The land cannot speak for itself. We are guardians of it.

    If you think that the Wild Atlantic Way should be protected from inappropriate, intrusive development, if you care about the land of Ireland and the spirit of the land and want to see it protected from wind farm development, please write in an objection to the Appeal.

    Letters need to state that you are asking An Bord Pleanala to reject the Appeal (PLO5E.243207) on the following grounds:

    • The public road passing Crockbrack Hill is now identified as a Scenic Driving Section of the Wild Atlantic Way.
    • Scenic Driving Sections are selected ‘to provide the visitor with opportunities to see and experience the best land and seascapes along the route spine’.
    • Council policy supports the need for protection. Tourism Policy (TOU-P-3) states: “not to permit development proposals which would detract from the visual quality/amenity on either the approach roads to, or views to be had from significant tourist attractions”.

    Send your letters, with a €50 cheque, to An Bord Pleanala, 64 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1.

    Wind Watch relies entirely
    on User Funding
    Donate $5 PayPal Donate

    Share:

    Get the Facts Follow Wind Watch on Twitter

    Wind Watch on Facebook

    Share

    CONTACT DONATE PRIVACY ABOUT SEARCH
    © National Wind Watch, Inc.
    Use of copyrighted material adheres to Fair Use.
    "Wind Watch" is a registered trademark.
    Share

    Wind Watch on Facebook

    Follow Wind Watch on Twitter