January 29, 2008

Erris wind-farms to be considered under fast-track planning system

A wind energy company who have applied for permission to build wind-farms in Geesala and Bangor in north Mayo have had their proposed projects designated as Strategic Infrastructure Developments (SIDs).

The application made by Atlanticwest Energy Ltd proposes to develop a wind-farm with an output greater than 100 megawatts at Briska and Knocklettercuss, Bangor along with another wind-farm at Roy and Dooyork, Geesala consisting of 44 wind turbines with a combined capacity of 101.2 megawatts.

They lodged the the application for the Geesala wind-farm with An Bord Pleanála on July 17, 2007 and the Bangor application was lodged on August 1, 2007. On January 18, at a meeting of An Bord Pleanála, it was decided, in accordance with the Inspector’s Report, that the proposed developments are strategic infrastructure.

In 2005, the applicant was denied planning permission by both Mayo County Council and An Bord Pleanála to construct a 72 megawatt wind-farm consisting of 24 wind turbines at Roy, Dooyork and also to construct a 96 megawatt wind farm consisting of 32 wind turbines in Bangor.

Since the Planning and Development Act came into force in 2006, a special division of An Bord Pleanála was created to deal exclusively with strategic infrastructure projects and provides for a ‘fast track’ procedure for planning applications for major infrastructure projects directly to the new division.
The decision on whether or not a project is allocated planning permission lies centrally with An Bord Pleanála and takes the decision-making process away from the local authority. These changes were brought in to ensure that strategic infrastructure projects are delivered as quickly as possible, consistent with good planning and environmental assessment.

Cllr Gerry Coyle told The Mayo News that there had been objections to the original wind-farms by the local residents because of their proximity to homes.

“There were objections to the wind-farms at this location before and I am sure if they are proposing a bigger development, it will also be objected to. I do not know too much about this application but I would not have thought that it would qualify as a strategic infrastructure development. I would have a feeling that it would be turned down again because what has changed since An Bord Pleanála turned them down before?” he said.

Cllr Coyle explained that both sides of the argument regarding wind-farms had to be heard and he felt that these issues should not be railroaded through. He added that if developers wanted to construct wind-farms, they should talk to the communities affected by them and discuss ways in which the community would benefit financially from them.

Anton McNulty

The Mayo News

29 January 2008

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2008/01/29/erris-wind-farms-to-be-considered-under-fast-track-planning-system/