March 4, 2013

Windfarms not welcome say town councillors

Westmeath Examiner | Friday, 1st March, 2013

This is the Lake County and the energy requirements of the UK should not affect its tourist potential.

That was the sentiment Cllr Peter Burke expressed at the February meeting of Mullingar Town Council last week, when he tabled a motion to have the council request the government to direct An Bord Pleanála to postpone deciding on wind farm applications until a review of wind energy guidelines, including the examination of noise impact and effect on visual amenity, has been completed and debated.

More transparency is needed, said Cllr Burke.

He did not wish to be negative on the issue, but he felt the place for windfarms was in coastal areas or bogs; he was afraid shortcuts could be taken because of the lack of statutory guidelines.

“We’re not being unfairly negative – all we are requesting is that nothing goes ahead until the proper guidelines are in place,” he said.

Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Ken Glynn supported the motion, saying many communities were extremely worried by the proposals, while FG’s Ruth Illingworth said Westmeath wasn’t the place to put them.

“The Scottish government was enthusiastic about wind energy in the beginning and now not so much, and the UK are putting them increasingly out at sea,” she said, adding that Ireland could ringfence the coast with them but these applications were potentially threatening to the landscape of Westmeath.

Labour’s Mick Dollard said: “Let’s be honest, this is all about money, this is all about greed. These should be located off the west coast of Ireland but the companies involved don’t want to do that because it will cost too much money.

“There is nothing that will switch off tourists as much as to see large high turbines,” he continued, adding that he had no problem with the Irish government selling off energy to England, but not at the expense of Westmeath tourism and jobs.

The cathaoirleach of Mullingar Town Council, Cllr Gerry Sheridan also gave his support to Cllr Burke’s motion.

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