Westmeath County Council could be on a collision course with the Government after a number of represenatives vowed that they are “not for changing” when it comes to the controversial issue of windfarms.
On February 17, Minister for Planning Jan O’Sullivan notified the council that there were four planning issues relating to the latest County Development Plan, two of which were part of the Mullingar Area Plan. The most significant of the objections in terms of the number of public submissions received, concerned the policy requiring industrial wind turbines to have a set back distance from residential areas of ten times their height.
The Government has asked the council to review the policy as it is inconsistent with existing planning legislation.
While at yesterday’s monthly council meeting members agreed to wait until after the new deadline for public submissions had elapsed before deciding what its course of action will be, a number of councillors noted that they were “not for changing”.
“Three thousand people have made submissions. They have made their mind up and I hope that double that number make submissions this time around,” said Cllr Ken Glynn.
Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, Cllr Glynn said that Westmeath County Council should not be “dictated to” by central government.
“I am not for changing. We went through the whole process. We listened to what people had to say. Over 3,000 submissions were made and it was very clear what the issues were. The fact is that the people are happy with what we put forward.”
Cllr Johnny Penrose, who made the original proposal relating to set back distances, also noted that he would not be changing his position.
Cathaoirleach Peter Burke, who was at pains to stress that the council’s policy restricting wind turbines to cutover and cutaway bogs was “100 percent accepted”, welcomed Cllr Mark Cooney’s proposal that the council wait until after the March 12 deadline for public submission before reviewing their position. “Let the people have their say,” he said.
Cllr Ger Corcoran noted that the public’s concerns regarding the development of windfarms are “very real” and “growing”. He also predicted that the volume of public submissions will be even greater this time around.
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