Mayo TDs and senators need ‘to waken up to the truth’ that such projects as the Oweninny Wind Farm extract ‘a huge economic cost’ and bring ‘none of the employment benefits’ garnered by the onetime Bellacorick power station. That is the view of the Moy Valley Protection Group (MVPG) which claims it will take a High Court challenge against the project.
The project was granted permission on June 2 last, subject to 20 conditions. This now allows the ESB and Bord na Móna to erect 61 wind turbines on a 5,000 hectare site near Bellacorick, in north west Mayo. Costing over €320 million, it will have a maximum electricity generating capacity of 172 megawatts when completed.
MVPG said in a statement: “There is no point in having an energy hub of gas and wind when it just leaves the county, with no benefit, and only disadvantage and heartache to the local people.” It also questioned Mayo County Council’s zoning strategy for this area, which they dubbed a form of ‘economic apartheid’.
“The MVPG has no choice but to support those people whose lives and economic well-being are under attack by this white elephant and so we will go to court and do all we can to stop this. To this effect, we call on the communities within the Moy Valley who will be negatively affected by these wind farms and Grid West, to support our fundraising efforts for this High Court challenge as we go to door-to-door and plan other fundraising events,” the statement continued.
At a meeting held in Crossmolina on Wednesday night last, it was decided to challenge the An Bord Pleanála decision to grant planning permission for the huge Oweninny wind farms.
“We believe the estimated minimum €300 million cost is not feasible for Bord Na Móna or the ESB since without the tax breaks and captive consumers who pay extra levies in the form of high electricity bills it would be an even bigger white elephant. At a time when the UK and many other European countries are turning away from wind and investing in better alternatives that are greener, more secure, cost effective and more employment intensive, we need to do the same,” they said.
They questioned how the State, through semi-state bodies, could make such a huge investment in a project while continually failing to address the need for flood defences in Crossmolina
“Also, it is environmental madness to pour tens of thousands of tonnes of concrete into bogs that have a crucial role in alleviating the flooding that regular takes place in the Moy–Deel Basin since bogs are nature’s sponges,” they said.
They argue that if these wind farms are developed communities in Moygowagh, Kilfian, Ardagh, Crossmolina, Knockmore, Foxford, Callow, Killasser, Charlestown, Kilmovee, Ballaghaderreen, Flagford and others will see a renewed drive for Grid West, in some form, with high power lines and pylons, since that project was planned in conjunction with the plans for wind farms in North Mayo.
Significantly, the planning appeals board has not included a community contribution as recommended by its inspector. He recommended an annual contribution of €2,500 per megawatt of power generated.
Some 18 objections were lodged for the Oweninny development on grounds of safety, proximity to dwellings, noise, flicker, grazing rights and value of property.