Several years ago Donegal County Council decided that wind farm developers in Donegal would not pay the usual financial contribution into the Development Contribution Scheme that other developers pay. The scheme provides money for infrastructure and facilities in Donegal. [1; also see information sheet]
“Ordinary people who build a house for themselves pay into the Scheme to the tune of €3,100. All developers pay into it. Why don’t wind farms developers? They already get subsidies from the increase of 13% Green Levy on our electricity bills.” Said an angry resident.
Here is one example of how a developer is told they don’t have to pay into the Development Contribution Scheme. It is in relation to the Crockbrack Wind Farm, Moville, Donegal, PA 12/7002 and PL 05A.240394. Applicant: Declan Clarke.
The developer has submitted his plans in response to An Bord Pleannala’s Conditions. One of the Conditions from ABP (repeated in three sets of Conditions following three appeals to ABP) states that:
“The developer shall pay to the planning authority a financial contribution in respect of public infrastructure and facilities … in accordance with the terms of the Development Contribution Scheme made under section 48 of the Planning and Development Act 2000.”
The developer’s response to this Condition is to say “that payment of a contribution … is not required”.
They base this position on a letter that they received from Donegal County Council (31st January 2014) which states that:
“the current Donegal County Council Development Contribution Scheme does not make provision for contributions payable in respect of wind energy development.” 
Who decided the Scheme would not make provision for contributions? Why? How come it has not been changed to include wind farm developers? Why is Donegal County Council out of step with the rest of the Councils in Ireland? This situation is being brought to the public and the Councillors awareness by the Inishowen Wind Energy Awareness Group (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Wexford County Council charges €18,000 per turbine. So Crockbrack Hill would pay €36,000. [See listing of DCS charges in each county.]
Donegal has thirty-three wind farms comprising 231 turbines so the Council has lost the people and communities of Donegal €4,158,000.
At a conservative estimate with available wind data for Donegal, wind turbines with an output capacity of 2MW (two mega watt), a rotor diameter of 82 meters, a hub height of 82 meters, placed on top of Crockbrack Hill (183m above sea level), turbine availability estimated with 96-97%, will produce an energy yield of 6,570,510 kWh per year. This output multiplied with a feed-in tariff of about 7.2ct per kWh, will yield an estimated profit of €460,000 per year.
So a wind farm like the two turbines that will be built on Crockbrack Hill makes €920,000 in profit per year.
Allow two years to pay off costs, there will be twenty three years of profit.
So the Crockbrack Hill wind farm will make €21,160,000 over 23 years.
Donegal has 231 wind turbines, e.g. if we take these figures as ‘fact’ for a calculating example, the wind farm developers will make €2,443,980,000 (2.4 billion euro) in profit in Donegal over the next 23 years. These figures are estimates and will of course change with differences in the turbine make, output /installed capacity, wind farm location, hub height, rotor diameter etc. But people get the picture.
“Donegal has one of the highest numbers of turbines in Ireland. This ‘not making provision’ makes no sense. We think that the Council and the councillors should act immediately to review their policy and make provision for all wind farm developers to pay into the Development Contribution Scheme.” Said a local resident.
Developers are already getting away with not paying Community Benefit, a contribution to the people and communities who will be living with the turbines for twenty-five to forty years. In other countries developers are obliged to pay this. In Ireland it is only a Guideline. When the developer of Crockbrack Hill was contacted by the local residents group about Community Benefit he said that that sort of thing isn’t done in Ireland.
“So ordinary people pay when building their own houses and in their electricity bills. People’s houses that are near wind farms can lose between 10 and 20% of their value. Not to mention the impacts on sleep and health. They get paid even when the turbines are not generating any. Wind farm developers get given money from our bills and pay nothing to the communities, either in the Development Contribution Scheme or through Community Benefit to the people who have to live with the turbines for up to forty years. How can this be fair? It makes no sense at all. Come on Councillors, get your act together.”
1) Donegal County Council, Development Contribution Scheme 2008–12 states that it can be reviewed at any time (Section 15, page 13). It lists exemptions (Section 10, page 9), which include agriculture, graveyards and youth, health or charitable developments. There is no mention of wind farms being exempted.
2) All An Bord Pleanala’s decisions are binding and final, unless taken higher to a Judicial Review. How can this one Condition be overruled so simply by the Council?
Prepared by Inishowen Wind Energy Awareness Group, September 2015. Contact: email@example.com; David Simpson/Toni Devine on 074 93 81224.
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