Bord Na Mona’s plans to develop a wind farm in south Longford have been dealt a fresh blow after councillors backed calls to extend the distance in which turbines can be built from residential homes.
The ringing endorsement was one which looks set to throw fresh question marks over the semi-state’s hopes to erect 28 wind turbines across the southern half of the county.
Seventeen of the Council’s 18 elected members endorsed a motion tabled by Cllr Mark Casey which had called for the extension and consequent amendment to County Longford’s Development plan.
The sole remaining member, Cathaoirleach and Cllr Mick Cahill followed through on his admission to a public meeting in Lanesboro 48 hours beforehand that he intended vacating the chair, citing a conflict of interest brought about by his 44 year association with Bord Na Mona.
“This is probably one of the biggest issues facing Longford right now,” Cllr Casey told a hushed chamber last Wednesday evening.
“This is an absolute environmental disaster if it’s allowed to happen. The way forward is to put these (wind turbines) out to sea.
“We can’t damage our landscape. We have to leave it in a better shape than the way we got it.”
Cllr Colm Murray, who secured approval for the motion to specify industrial wind turbines in its wording, said he made his mind up on the proposed plans shortly after visiting a similarly sized wind farm at Mount Lucas in Co Offaly.
He said it was both the size and propensity of the turbines which, if replicated across the peatlands of Derryarogue, Derryadd and Lough Bannow, threatened to undermine the entire region’s social, tourism and economic well being.
“They (industrial turbines) have no purpose in our plans going forward as a county and I think that with this amendment it will put an end to industrial wind turbines in our county for good,” he defiantly put it.
Another south Longford representative and Lanesboro publican Ger Farrell said he had initially brought concerns surrounding a possible wind farm 12 months ago.
“We (Longford) are just too small a county for these (trubines) no matter where they are,” he said, while revealing one of the main factors behind his decision to enter politics was because of Longford’s tourism potential.
Cllr Gerry Warnock followed suit, saying it was incumbent on local politicians to stand united behind perturbed local residents.
“We have an obligation to the people of south Longford; Bord Na Mona’s obligation is to their bottom line, it’s as simple as that,” he contended.
His urban based colleague, Cllr Seamus Butler said the lack of updated planning guidelines concerning wind farm development had created a “vacuum” for debates such as the one hanging over Derryadd.
He qualified those remarks nonetheless by telling onlooking protestors in the public gallery of the deep seated support councillors had to their cause.
Fine Gael group leader, Cllr Micheal Carrigy said as chairperson of Co Longford’s Tourism Committee he too could not sit back and allow the development proceed.
In a further move, he sought approval for the Council to write to Bord Na Mona with a view to the company altering its zoning aspirations over south Longford’s boglands into the future.
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