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Councillor wants wind farm applications halted

A county councillor has called for a stay on the granting of planning applications for wind farms in the county until it is known why a wind turbine in the county collapsed.

Councillors have put questions about the collapse of the 64 metre high wind turbine at Loughderryduff near Ardara on March 22nd to Donegal County Council and have called for a full independent inquiry.

During an emergency motion on the turbine collapse during Monday’s reconvened March meeting of the council, Cllr. Seamus Ó Domhnaill (FF) called for a stay on the granting and acceptance of all planning applications for wind farms until the results of an investigation on the collapse has been made known. He also called for a policy of putting all wind farms off shore, following the example of Norway.

Councillors put a series of questions to the council about the collapse of the wind turbine and called for the manufacturers of the turbine – Danish company Vesta – and the owner of the wind farm – North West Wind – to be brought before the council to give reassurances about the safety of the wind farm.

Cllr. John Campbell (Ind) called for a full independent investigation into the collapse which he described as a “catasprhoic failure”. He said he was very concerned that the other eight turbines at the wind farm are operating again.

Cllr. Marie Therese Gallagher (SF) said the incident showed that there was a need for regulations on setback distances for wind farms as opposed to just guidelines.

Responding to the questions, director of services for planning Michael Heaney said the council expects to receive a loss assessors’ report on the incident in the “very near future”.

He said the wind farm had complied with the conditions of the planning application and that the replacement of the turbine would require a new planning application.

Mr. Heaney said the company had carried out a “thorough investigation” of the other eight turbines and “they were deemed safe and fit” to be turned on five days after the collapse.