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Flaherty calls for new wind energy guidelines before new projects can proceed

Fianna Fail General Election candidate for Longford-Westmeath, Cllr Joe Flaherty has repeated calls for the Government to publish new wind energy guidelines and ensure that the concerns of the local communities are taken on board.

Cllr Flaherty made the comments after meeting representatives of the ‘No To Derryad Windfarm’ campaign alongside Fianna Fail party leader, Micheal Martin and council colleague, Cllr Pat O’Toole.

Cllr Flaherty explains, “The current Wind Energy Development Guidelines were published in 2006 and offer advice to planning authorities on the planning for wind turbines.

“However, they do not take into account developments that have taken place in the industry in recent years. Now residents in the Killashee and Lanesboro area are very fearful about Bord Na Mona proposals for a wind energy project that will feature 24 x 185m turbines (equivalent to an 85-storey building in height).

“During a recent meeting in Cooney’s Hotel, Ballymahon, residents expressed concern about the environmental impact with an anticipated 100 tonnes of concrete needed to hold each turbine in place. The potential to exacerbate flooding problems in the area must also be looked at.”

“The development is earmarked for a site that was previously flagged as a potential wilderness park in the County Development Plan. Residents are also concerned about potential sound, flicker and shadow issues.

“Worryingly, it now looks likely that Bord Na Mona will apply directly to An Bord Pleanala for planning next month as a strategic investment project thereby the County Council’s planning system. Residents’ reasonable concerns must be listened to,” argued Flaherty.

“Bord Na Mona, has been, to date, quite poor with engaging with the local community about this project. In my opinion, this is a major error on their part.

“Fine Gael has consistently failed to follow through on commitments to publish new wind energy guidelines. The failure to publish new guidelines means that new wind energy projects, such as the Derryadd project, will be based on outdated guidelines and protocols that are no longer fit for purpose. In 2006, no-one saw 185m high turbines as a viable proposition yet that’s what Bord na Mona are proposing in 2018.

“Industrial scale wind farms being built so close to homes and schools cannot be tolerated, and we need new guidelines to protect communities,” concluded Flaherty.