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Wind Turbines at Kinnagoe to become one of the highest in Ireland – “That’s a step too far” say local residents

Local residents are angry that the developer of a wind farm near Kinnagoe Bay has applied to increase the height of the turbines to become one of the highest wind turbines in the whole of Ireland.

“In his application he says it is a ‘slight’ increase. We don’t call increasing the height of the hub from 69 metres to 85 metres ‘slight’. That is an increase of almost a quarter of the permitted height. It will be the height of a five story building. It takes the full turbine height to 132 metres. The highest turbine is in Greystones in Wicklow at 139 metres. The developer is proposing to increase the height by 16 metres making them nearly forty metres higher than any building in Ireland. The highest building is St John’s Cathedral in Limerick at 93.8 metres. “It would make the turbines almost twice the height of St Eunan’s Cathedral in Letterkenny” said a local resident.

Part of the reason all this is making people angry, is that after the first application for the two turbine wind farm was turned down by Donegal County Council Planning Authority the developer appealed to An Bord Pleanala, supporting his appeal by getting a petition up from local residents appearing to offer cheaper electricity, jobs and regeneration for the area – none of which are likely to happen.

In the appeal process, Donegal Council was asked by An Bord Pleanala to comment on the appeal and again DCC turned it down on the same grounds: wrong place for a wind farm. An Bord Pleanala’s inspector visited the site on Crockbrack Hill and also decided it was the wrong place for a wind farm (see Inspector’s report). As well as DCC Planning, the Inspector of An Bord Pleanala did not think, that if something is ‘open for consideration for wind farms’, it means it has to be done under any circumstances. All parties involved in a development like this, have to try to achieve a balance between the protection of residential amenity of neighbouring communities in the vicinity of wind developments, and facilitating the meeting of national renewable energy targets. The balance in this case was against a wind farm on top of Crockbrack Hill.

But the board of An Bord Pleanala met in an office in Dublin. For them Crockbrack Hill was just a name, they did not visit the site. They did not see that it has a megalithic tomb on it and a unique intact existing example of the Rundale system of fields and farming and that it is also a small hill in the middle of our community.

The board of An Bord Pleanala decided to ignore their own inspector’s report and recommendations, ignore the recommendations of the DCC planning department and ignore the submissions made by local residents and granted the appeal.

In An Bord Pleanala’s Board Directions there is a set of 19 conditions for this development, which are to be complied with by the developer.

It is stated in condition no. 5:

Prior to commencement of development, details of the proposed turbines, including design, height and colour, shall be submitted to and agreed in writing with the planning authority. The hub height of the proposed turbines shall not exceed 69 metres and the diameter of the rotary blades shall not exceed 94 metres. The wind turbines shall be geared to ensure that the blades rotate in the same direction. Reason: In the interest of visual amenity

Clearly that means that the height cannot exceed 116 metres! The turbines are already twenty two metres taller than any building in Ireland and additionally they are situated on the top of Crockbrack Hill.

“How can the developer now apply to increase the height? He has already successfully applied to have the road extended across the top of the hill and moved the substation to another location higher up on the hill. Is it really possible, even though An Bord Pleanala agreed to one application with strict conditions, (see An Board Pleanala, ref. no: 240394: Crockbrack Hill, Carrowbeg and Meenletterbale, Moville, Co. Donegal (12/70002)) that the developer can at a later date change everything in it. How can that be?”

After four applications and an appeal the developer still hasn’t said which brand or make of turbine he will be using, but he reassures the planners by saying it will be a typical turbine.

“How can he argue that the noise levels will not be significant if he still hasn’t said which turbine he will use. Without any technical specification about the turbine, how can any of the reports and assessments be of any value at all? That is like trying to sell someone a car without saying which engine will be in it!

“We think that the developer probably always intended to make all the changes he has, but knew he wouldn’t get them through on the first application all in one go. So he is creating development by stealth.

“The Irish planning system seems to allow him to do exactly this, it’s crazy! And the community is kept in the dark,” says a local resident.

Possible proof of the developer’s hidden agenda, is the way he advertised the 5 planning applications involved in this one development. The first one was placed into the Irish Times and that’s why it slipped past the attention of the local community. (See article in the Donegal Daily, March 9, 2012 – Inishowen Residents Snubbed by Planning Application for Wind Farm. Thousands of residents across Inishowen couldn’t object to a planning application for a wind farm – because they didn’t know about the application). The second, third and fourth advertisement for changes to the original application were placed in one of our local papers and because of this the local community was informed about it immediately. The fifth and current planning application was advertised (as the first one) in the Irish Times. Thanks to a growing network of concerned people, we learned about this new application just in time.

If people want to object to the latest application (14/50014) to increase the height above the limit placed on him by An Bord Pleanala they have until 14th February to write in an objection to the Council.

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Community in the Dark about Wind Farm

A recent article highlighted the developments at the wind farm near Kinnagoe Bay. Local residents feel they are being kept in the dark about what will be happening in their own area.

“We have the Glen Residents Group, one of the longest running residents groups in the area, and the developer and the Council have not talked to us about what will be happening. We know a wind farm is going to be built. Its shape, location and size changes all the time. There is going to be a lot of very heavy construction work going on for months. In most normal cases the developer has to talk to the local community most affected by the wind farm. He hasn’t done this with us.”

The latest proposed increase in height of the turbines to 132 metres will mean longer, heavier loads on the Meenletterbale road, which is a small country road that the community has helped maintain and repair. There will be up to 445 lorry loads going up and down that road. The community does not know when this will happen, what will happen if the road is damaged and who will pay for it.

“All eyes will be on them when it is put up, but they have to take the whole thing down in twenty five years time. Who will be watching then? Where will the money come from to pay for all that? Will the community be left with a ghost wind farm?” Local residents remember the times of the Celtic Tiger when lorry loads were taken along roads that would not hold their weight or the number of them. One local road was so damaged it had to be closed temporarily. The repairs done by the developer just involved pouring concrete into holes.

To get the turbines to and from the site they will be traveling along the Derry road, through Moville and down the Malin road. To move them through Moville, they will have to take down bollards and lamp posts.

One local residents pointed out: “The developer hasn’t held a meeting in Moville to tell us what he is going to be doing to our town. What if he has to take down the tree in the square? Does he have our permission to do that?”

Several years ago the community at Kinnagoe Bay got organised, set up and paid for their own group water scheme. The pipes of the water scheme were laid under the same road that the lorries will now travel on.

“How do we know that the weight of these lorries will not break our mains pipe? If there is a break, who fixes it and who will pay for it? How long will it take for them to find it?

The developer will obviously need water at some time during the building phase. Where will he get this? If the developer gets the water from our group water scheme, will the scheme be paid for the water he takes?”

Residents are not against wind farms or alternative energy but think they should be off shore away from wild untouched landscapes that are part of the attraction to tourists and the people who live here. If they are happening in the middle of a community then the community should be told what is going to be happening, not kept in the dark.

Press Releases prepared by Inishowen Wind Energy Awareness Group: 30/1/14. Contact David /Toni on 074 93 81224.