The Minister for the Environment, Simon Coveney, has this week issued a stern warning to Westmeath County Council over its amendment to the county development plan on wind farm guidelines.
Mr Coveney has used his full power of authority under section 31 of the planning and development act to go against a decision taken by the council on April 25 last, where members voted unanimously to adopt the proposed ‘Variation No 1’ in the plan. The variation calls for a night time noise limit of 30db outside wind energy developments. This goes against the current 2006 guidelines of which allows for a night time noise limit of 43db.
Mr Coveney wrote to the CEO of Westmeath County Council, Mr Pat Gallagher last week issuing a draft directive that the variation be deleted altogether from the plan, along with another amendment, which calls for equine facilities be regarded as noise sensitive receptors.
Dep Robert Troy has this week slammed the government’s failure to implement new wind energy guidelines and says Mr Coveney is going against the democratic will of the elected members of Westmeath County Council.
“The government are still acting under antiquated guidelines from 2006. They are saying one thing on the ground to pacify the people but the government are doing absolutely nothing to address these issues,” said Dep Robert Troy.
“We were promised the guidelines before the last local election in 2014, it’s now 2016, two years on, and they are still issuing directives on antiquated guidelines,” he continued. “They have rejected the democratic will of Westmeath County Council, of the elected members that are there to represent the people of Westmeath and their concerns over this issue, and I for one will be raising this in the Dáil the next chance I get.”
Cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council, Cllr Frankie Keena, said this is a prime example of how the powers of local authorities being erased.
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