The oral hearing into the proposed development of 25 giant wind turbines on the edge of Glenties concluded last week, with the town now awaiting a verdict on the controversial project.
In closing the hearing Senior Inspector Kevin Moore advised that his report will be sent to the Board for formal consideration and every effort will be made to determine the appeal as soon as possible. As yet there has been no date fixed for a decision by An Bord Pleanála.
The Glenties Windfarm Information Group (GWIG) represented the majority of the 15 appellants and 64 observers to the appeal, and they claim they are satisfied that they have demonstrated the “fatal flaws in the planning application.”
Chairman of the GWIG Mr. Ernan O’Donnell stated that “at long last our concerns over health, noise and hydrogeology have been publicly acknowledged and we expect the Board to seriously address these issues and the related risks they pose to the local community and receiving environment in their assessment of this planning appeal.”
Expert evidence had boosted strength of the appeal with several academics highlighting issues on noise and hydrological impacts of the proposed Straboy windfarm. Dr. Christopher Hanning, Mr. Dick Bowdler, Dr. Olivia Bragg, and Mr. Paul Johnston all assessed the proposal with the GWIG claiming their contributions clearly demonstrated the flaws in the application.
Losses of amenity and health risks for the residents of Straboy and Glenties were stressed and the direct impact on local families was underlined by the evidence of several young local mothers, who shared their concerns at the development and how their lives may be affected by moving from the area in order to protect their young families.
Straboy Wind Energy Ltd, the promoters of the project, contested some elements of the evidence provided on behalf of the Glenties Group but no medical or clinical expert was called on to dispute the noise and health risks described by Dr. Hanning.
The developers also accepted that no breeding bird survey was carried out on the Straboy site as required in order to adequately assess the planning application under European Environmental Directives.
The Glenties Group expressed their gratitude that An Bord Pleanála recognised that part of the proposed development site is situated in a Gaeltacht area and the Inspector in conducting proceedings had a keen appreciation of local Gaeltacht traditions and addressed the hearing and individual witnesses in Irish when required.
The GWIG alleges that Straboy Wind Energy Ltd has been dismissive of the value of the local landscape and culture as a tourism asset for Glenties. But the group strongly feel that the project would upset the natural scenery.
Mr. O’Donnell concluded that “as a result of the hearing there can be no doubt that contrary to the statements made by the developers Glenties is a vibrant community with a vibrant culture and with the refusal of this planning application Glenties can continue to offer a quality tourism product in a quiet, unspoilt and unindustrialised landscape.”
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