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SWWAG calls for end to windfarm plans

News that the proposed 11 turbine Ballmanus Wind Farm was refused planning permission by Wicklow County Council has been welcomed by local lobby group South Wicklow Wind Action Group (SWWAG).

The council refused permission on Monday, August 28, following more than 300 objections from local residents and elected representatives.

‘This is the second time in less than three years that developer ABO Wind Ireland Limited has failed to persuade Wicklow County Council Planners that their proposed development is anything other than the wrong project in the wrong place,’ said SWWAG spokesperson Richard More-O’Ferrall.

‘SWWAG now calls on ABO to take this second rejection of their project, and the community-wide opposition to it fully on board and terminate the project, just as their Scottish counterparts did in 2010. On that occasion, following refusal by Fife Council of permission for a wind farm ABO announced the abandonment of the project citing its role as a responsible developer and the influence of feedback it had received from the local community,’ he added.

Objections to the project were lodged by a large number of community organisations and clubs as well as the local school and Wicklow Uplands Council.

There was also reaction from local TDs this week following the council’s decision.

Sinn Fein TD John Brady said that he was happy than ‘common sense’ had prevailed. He also stressed the importance of the publication of new wind planning guidelines.

‘I am glad that common sense has prevailed and I want to commend South Wicklow Wind Action Group and the people of the area who stood up and fought this application for the second time. I hope that this decision will now be accepted by ABO Wind Ireland. While the Government had committed to publish wind planning guidelines within 3 to 6 months of forming a new government, this is yet to happen. In the absence of this, there now needs to be an immediate halt to wind farm planning applications throughout the State until we have appropriate planning guidelines in place,’ he said.

‘It is intended that Sinn Féin’s Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2016 will be debated in the Dáil on its resumption in September. This Bill guarantees a minimum set back distance and ensures there is an open and fully extensive public consultative process,’ he added.

Fianna Fáil’s Pat Casey also welcomed the decision and said that there are now other viable renewable energy options which must be explored.

‘I will continue my work with local Councillors and the people of rural South Wicklow to ensure that this further attempt to impose this unacceptable and dangerous development is stopped once and for all. ‘The common good of the residents of South Wicklow must be taken into account before we pollute our unique landscape with these industrial turbines. The deep pockets and the media campaigns of multi-national companies such as ABO must not subvert the democratic will of local government and the local people,’ he said.

‘I am also convinced that a recent High Court decision involving Donegal creates a precedent whereby the County Council should re-insert a minimum distance provision that would by 10 times the height of the turbine which would end this blight on our landscape.

‘The people and communities of South Wicklow must be listened to and I will be working to ensure this development is stopped permanently. I welcome and support the motion for this week’s meeting of Wicklow County Council that would re-introduce a minimum distance of ten times the tip height of turbines from any house or public building such as schools.’