An Bord Pleanála (ABP) will hold oral hearings next week into appeals for controversial plans to build 35 wind turbines in South Roscommon. The meetings begin on June 9th and will be held at the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone. Although scheduled for four days, the hearings could run for longer if required. This is the latest round in an ongoing battle between locals, supported by the department of arts, heritage and the Gaeltacht, and Galetech Energy Developments Limited. A decision on the appeals is expected by July 19th.
The two applications, one for 19 wind turbines in the Taughmaconnell area and the other for 16 in the Dysart area, will be taken together as they have “common issues”. The first day will hear submissions on issues concerned with hydro-geology, hydrology, and drainage. Submissions on ecological and wildlife will also be heard. ABP has appointed specialist consultants to advise on these issues, and they will be attending the meetings.
According to the ABP website the submission for the Taughmaconnell area lists 19 wind turbines standing at a height of 135m. The specific areas being looked at are Boleyduff, Cam, Cloonacaltry, Culleenoolagh, Feacle, Milltown, Skeavally, Tawnnagh, Tobermacloughlin. The second submission with 16 turbines deals with Cronin, Gortaphuill, Mullaghardagh, Dysart.
At last week’s meeting of Roscommon County Council, councillors called on Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Denis Naughten, to suspend all planning applications for wind turbines until new legislation is approved by the Dáil. The motion brought forward by Cllr Tony Ward (IND) stated that all turbines be at least 1.5 kms away from residential and community buildings, such as schools and churches.
During the discussion, councillors expressed concerns that the proposed developments for South Roscommon may interfere with underground water channels and exacerbate flooding.
Cllr Ward praised the Wind Turbine Action Group South Roscommon for its long running campaign against the wind farms. One of the group, Eamon “Ted” Kelly, Carrowkeel, Dysart took a judicial review of An Bord Pleanala’s decision to grant planning permission for the farms, which he won in July 2014. However, these legal challenges have been very costly, said Cllr Ward.
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