Offaly councillors have chosen to add a stipulation that wind farms be set back 3.2km from residences to the county’s next development plan, against the advice of acting county manager Sean Murray.
A Fianna Fail–led proposal carried at a meeting of Offaly County Council earlier today (Monday) also proposed the omission of Cloncollin Bog as an area deemed suitable for the consideration of wind energy projects due to its high amenity value, and also that the 3.2km exclusion zone cover areas of high amenity such as Clonmacnoise, Clara Bog, Croghan Hill and the Slieve Blooms.
A suggestion from Independent councillor Dervill Dolan that any wind farm developments should begin at the core of bogs and work outwards from there was also agreed at the meeting.
The proposal was eventually carried without the need for a vote. Fine Gael’s Tommy McKeigue said he and his colleagues would be abstaining from any vote on the issue however.
Cllr McKeigue had looked to postpone the issue until June in the hope updated guidelines would be available from central government. “I don’t believe this will stand up,” he said, suggesting that the Fianna Fail proposal was “a complete election gimmick”.
Conversely, Fianna Fail’s Sinead Dooley said what the proposal was doing was “giving maximum comfort to the people of Offaly”.
Mr Murray told councillors postponing the issue was essentially not an option. The current council’s final meeting is scheduled for May 19. The new council’s AGM is scheduled for June 6, and legislation requires that a decision on the county development plan is made by June 9.