One-hundred-and-forty-six submissions were received regarding exclusion zones for wind turbines as part of the County Development Plan.
Councillors had voted in favour of an exclusion zone which would restrict wind farms from at least 1,000m, or ten times the tip of the height of the proposed turbines, from any residential properties or other centres of human habitation.
However, Minister for the Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Simon Coveney, issued a draft directive demanding that the restriction is removed from the Wicklow County Development Plan 2016-2022.
The submissions included seven from local representatives, as well as submissions from local residents and action groups. The submissions weren’t limited to County Wicklow and came from all corners of the country. Most concerns raised centred around potential health issues and the effect known as shadow flicker.
Cllr Joe Behan said: ‘It is anti-democratic, after saying we were the people to draw up the County Development Plan, for a Government Minster from Cork to come along and say “I don’t like this, take it out”. The current guidelines are totally out of date anyway, with no sign of any new guidelines.’
Cllr Shay Cullen said the fact so many submissions were received over wind turbines vindicated the stance taken by councillors.
‘The current guidelines are not fit for purpose and there seems to be a reluctance to come forward with any new distance protection.’
Cllr Vincent Blake said: ‘We are still working with the 2006 recommendations from the Department. We put a lot of time into drawing up the County Development Plan. Some probably felt that 1,000 metres wasn’t sufficient but we felt it was a reasonable distance. We have already taken our fair share of wind turbines in this county.’
Issues raised by the elected members will be included in a report which Wicklow County Council will send to the Minister within four weeks.
Ultimately the final decision will rest with the Minister, though Councillors do have an option of a legal challenge.
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