The developers of a €100 million proposed windfarm in West Clare have categorically rejected claims that some of the “promoters” have engaged in “intimidation” against objectors.
Well-known West Clare businessman, Jackie Whelan, has alleged that some of the promoters of the windfarm proposed by Clare Coastal Wind Power Limited have engaged in “intimidation”.
Clare Coastal Wind Power Limited has submitted a planning application to An Bord Pleanála to develop a 45-turbine windfarm, with a hub height of 85m and a rotor diameter of 82m at Carrowmore South, Einagh, Monmore North, Doonbeg, Shragh, Mountrivers and Drumillihy.
Mr Whelan made the claim in a wide-ranging submission to An Bord Pleanála where he stated, “it is with considerable anger that it must be brought to official attention that some of the promoters of this windfarm have seen it fit personally to intimidate and threaten objectors to their scheme”.
A spokesman for Clare Coastal Wind Power said, however, they were extremely disappointed to read the allegations in Mr Whelan’s submission to An Bord Pleanála.
“These accusations are totally and absolutely without foundation. The promoters of the Shragh windfarm would condemn any such behaviour and have never engaged in any such acts. We applaud Mr Whelan’s efforts in relation to the West Clare Railway and wish him the very best in the future,” a spokesman said.
The West Clare Railway Limited managing director claimed this allegation is supported by at least one statement to the gardaí concerning a threat of physical violence made against a local landowner and a threat against the business interests made against the directors of WCR.
“This behaviour is a direct threat to the democratic system as it denies the right of people to have their opinion known and taken into account by those who are in the position to make the decisions.
“The scale of objection to the scheme or otherwise within the population affected can’t therefore be known with any certainty.
“Where this abhorrent behaviour becomes known to have occurred, no official body can reasonably feel confident in the information they have received. Neither can any State organisation have any truck with any scheme organised by those prepared to act in such a way, if only for fear that the state might be seen to be accepting or encouraging this behaviour in future schemes,” he said.
Mr Whelan stressed, “Any illegal acts will be investigated by the gardaí when brought to their attention and prosecution will ensue where it is confidently felt that the act can be shown to have occurred, beyond reasonable doubt.
“This sort of bullying within a tight-knit community, where families have ties going back many generations, can become particularly divisive and will have long-term consequences.
“Proving the commission of this behaviour beyond reasonable doubt is, sadly, unlikely. However, where it is known to have happened and can be shown to have happened, as it can in this case if only by sight of the statement made to the gardaí, then a decision based on the balance of probabilities is permitted,” he added.
Mr Whelan said he stands over his claims and is prepared to provide further information, if necessary, at an appropriate forum, at a later stage. He declined to comment any further.
Another Clare businessman, who didn’t wish to be named, told The Clare Champion that he visited Kilrush Garda Station last November and provided details of an alleged incident of intimidation to ensure gardaí had a record of it, just in case it escalated any further.
However, the businessman acknowledged that he didn’t ask the gardaí to interview the alleged perpetrator or to investigate the matter further as he just wanted it recorded.
A spokesman for Kilrush gardaí stated the station had not received any written statement of complaint concerning the alleged incident.
An Bord Pleanála recently asked Clare Coastal Wind Power Limited to undertake further surveys as set out in the guidelines to establish the baseline condition of the population of the mussel in the Doonbeg River and its habitat.
This work is part of a very substantial additional information request covering 17 different issues highlighted in relation to ecology, site drainage, peat management, water, shadow flicker and noise. In addition, a consolidated schedule of mitigation measures proposed must be submitted.
This additional information has to be provided by March 1 unless a request for additional time is made and agreed by An Bord Pleanála. On receipt of the information, An Bord Pleanála will decide whether or not to invoke its powers under the Planning and Development Act, requiring the developer to publish notice of the furnishing of any additional information and to allow for inspection or purchase of same and the making of further written submissions by the public.
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