August 24, 2017

‘Community’ wind farm plans abandoned in Waterford

The construction of a controversial “community” wind farm in Co Waterford has been abandoned, on foot of new guidelines for wind energy, issued last June.

The proposed development, by a company of local interests, had met major opposition.

It had caused divisions in the mid-Waterford area around the villages of Ballylaneen, Stradbally, and Bunmahon. Both sides accused each other of “intimidatory tactics” to win local support.

Plans for an 11-turbine farm, reported last month in the Irish Examiner, had been at an advanced stage, but opposition was stepped up in recent months. A public meeting in July, organised by the project’s development company, did not receive a favourable reception.

The company, BSB Energy, issued a statement this week: “In view of the feedback from the consultation process, the local campaign of opposition, the lack of local support, the committee is advising that the current wind farm proposal will not be proceeding any further. The current project is also not compliant given the proposed changes in the planning guidelines.”

The change in guidelines that affected the proposal was the “set-back” distance between turbines and residences, which must be at least four times the span of the blade on the turbine. The project had been designed according to old guidelines. To proceed under the new guidelines would have meant eliminating some turbines, making the project unviable.

BSB Energy director and local businessman Paddy Power said he would have continued if the guidelines had not changed. “They (opposition) wouldn’t have stopped me,” he said.

“They were willing to say anything and do anything to get their way, but they wouldn’t have stopped it going ahead.

“We had originally planned for 34 turbines but we came down to 11 but some wouldn’t have made it with the new guidelines and it wouldn’t have been viable”.

Fiona Keane of the Mahon Valley Against Turbines group said they were relieved the project wasn’t going ahead. “The last few months have been a real eye-opener in relation to how inappropriate projects could easily be pushed through planning in order to satisfy a few developers,” she said.

“We were lucky, we stopped this with people power. Not all communities have been successful.”

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