An estimated crowd of up to 100 people attended a public meeting in Lettermacaward on Saturday, listening to concerns over proposals to erect several wind farms in the Glenties area. The Gweebarra Conservation Group, which organised the meeting, is campaigning to alert area residents to their concerns about wind turbines.
Patricia Sharkey of the conservation group outlined plans to erect dozens of wind turbines near Glenties and Gweebarra Bay, and spoke of the ill-health effects the group believes turbines cause. She called Donegal’s hills “wholly unsuitable” for wind farms, claiming that the excavation of peat mountains would release more carbon dioxide into the air than the turbines would offset.
Ms. Sharkey said that objections to plans by Straboy Wind Energy Ltd to erect 38 wind turbines at Derkbeg Hill outside Glenties must be lodged with the Donegal County Council in Dungloe by Aug 15, and objections to plans by PJ Molloy to erect 19 turbines at Mully/Graffy, north-east of Glenties, must be submitted to the council by Aug. 22. Submissions must be accompanied by a 20 euro fee, Ms. Sharkey said.
The meeting drew people from 51 townlands in the area, as well as owners of local holiday homes who live in Sligo, Dublin, Derry, Antrim, Tyrone, Italy, France, Germany and the United States.
The campaigners, who oppose plans for the wind farms, an ESB/Eirgrid high-voltage wire planned for 102 kilometres of rural Donegal and mining licenses recently granted for the Gweebarra area, are forming a committee this week to continue their campaign.
Labour Cllr. Frank McBrearty Jr., who attended both meetings the conservation group has held in Lettermacaward in recent weeks, said he has been impressed with the size of the protest.
“I’m very impressed with the fact that it is growing,” Cllr. McBrearty said. “It’s gaining momentum.” He said he visited one of the sites where a wind farm is proposed. “I’m alarmed to say the least,” he said, adding that the county had to protect its landscape and its tourism industry, “but more important we have to protect the environment, too.”
The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has rejected the conservation group’s claims that a mining company was drilling in the Rosses in order to report on the area’s suitability for a hydro-electric scheme.
Last week the conservation group claimed that Mytilus Minerals Ltd., the company granted prospecting licenses for townlands around Gweebarra Bay, was drilling to prepare a report for the department on the area’s suitability for the scheme.
But late last week a department spokesperson said they had no information about investigations in relation to suitability for hydro-electric schemes” by the mining company. The spokesperson called it “very unlikely” that Mytilus was working on anything other than their prospecting as licensed.
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