Changes have been made to Wicklow’s County Development plan to safeguard against wind farms in certain areas.
At Monday’s meeting Director of Planning Des O’Brien outlined the changes which would see more emphasis placed on the landscape particularly in areas of outstanding natural beauty and areas of special amenity.
The impact of shadow flicker from wind turbine rotors will also be looked at carefully under the changes.
Cllr. Vincent Blake said wind farms were a problem for nearby residents and welcomed the changes while Cllr. Tommy Cullen dismissed the changes saying it would leave 50 per of Wicklow open to the erection of wind farms. This, he said, ‘will open the door for pylons’.
He suggested including more areas of West and South Wicklow in the changes and making them ‘not favoured’ for wind farms.
Cllr. Tom Fortune said his concern with wind farms was the effect on tourism noting ‘the reality is that we could have full employment in the county with tourism and agriculture’.
He said there was no reference in the plan to tourism at all.
Cllr. Jim Ruttle said that not agreeing the variations left the county more exposed to wind farms because it would leave the older guidelines in place.
Cllr. Cullen said he didn’t want to see Wicklow ‘becoming a dumping ground for all the wind farms in Britain’. He again suggested tighter restrictions which would see the plan being put back on public display and decided by the new council.
Cllr. Chris Fox said the variations were ‘interim measures because of what happened in Manor Kilbride. There’s no doubt a national plan needs to be agreed but it can’t be done here today.’
He noted that Wicklow’s County Development Plan will be reviewed shortly and these were interim measures ‘to make it stricter than it was’.
He told Cllr. Cullen ‘there’s merit in what you say but it’s a fight for another day’. Cllr. Pat Vance said that rejecting the variations meant that the campaigning from the people of Manor Kilbride ‘will be null and void. This is a major improvement on what existed.’
In the end the majority of the councillors voted in favour of the new changes.
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