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Eighteen of the 25 councillors in Laois have agreed to place restrictions on any future wind turbines planned for the county.
At a recent meeting of the county council, an amended motion that ‘No wind turbines in excess of half a megawatt be erected in Laois from now on’ was proposed and seconded by Fianna Fáil cllrs Pádraig Fleming and Catherine Fitzgerald. It was adopted unanimously, without a counter-proposal, by the 18 councillors who were present when a roll call of votes was called.
Those not present when the vote was called were Fine Gael councillors John Bonham, David Goodwin and John King; Fianna Fáil councillors Ray Cribbin and Seamus McDonald; and independent councillors Paul Mitchell and Rotimi Adebari.
The motion was adopted, despite the repeated advice of county manager Peter Carey that it would have absolutely no standing in planning law and would be ignored if planning applications for wind turbines should come before the council. He repeatedly told councillors that there are guidelines in place in the county development plan, regional development plan and also at national level that local authorities have no choice but to abide by them when determining planning applications.
Fine Gael cllr Marty Phelan had also submitted a separate motion, which was seconded by his party colleague James Daly. It read: ‘That this council give careful consideration to any application for wind turbine developments.’
Cllr Fleming had initially proposed the motion ‘That no new wind turbines be erected in Co Laois from now on’.
Cllr Phelan said that he could not support such a motion, as he knew of farmers who had small wind turbines which are used for cooling milk. He said that if cllr Fleming’s motion was to succeed, it would prohibit farmers and individuals from erecting small wind turbines on their lands to generate their own electricity.
It was then that councillors agreed to the amended motion, which was put to a roll call vote which was unanimously adopted.
The councillors who voted in favour of the amended motion were Fine Gael’s James Deegan, James Daly, Marty Phelan, Willie Aird, Kathleen O’Brien, Michael Lalor, Tom Mulhall, Mary Sweeney and John Moran; Fianna Fáil’s Jerry Lodge, John Joe Fennelly, Paddy Bracken, Brendan Phelan, Pádraig Fleming and Catherine Fitzgerald; independent Ben Brennan; Sinn Féin cllr Caroline Dwane; and Labour Party cllr Lisa Delaney.
During the course of the debate, the public gallery in the council chamber was filled with representatives from anti-wind groups from around the county. These included representatives from Rosenallis, The Swan, Portarlington, Stradbally, Ballinakill, Ballyroan, Laois Wind Energy Awareness Group and People Over Wind
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