The North Westmeath Turbine Action Group (NWTAG) is encouraging people to lobby their local politicians to support the retention of the clause in the County Development Plan that restricts the construction of industrial turbines to a minimum of one kilomentre from the nearest home.
Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, chairperson of NWTAG Jen Gallagher said that the CPO 10.132 clause in the draft development plan for 2021-2027 “protects people from the devastating effects of large-scale wind energy developments by providing for a one in ten setback at the nacelle”.
“The nacelle is the point where the tower and blades of an industrial turbine meet. If, for example, a turbine is 150 metres high from ground to the tip of the blades then the nacelle will be roughly 100 metres above ground. Under CPO 10.132 a turbine of this height would have to be situated a minimum of 1,000m or 1km from an occupied home giving more protection than either the 2006 or 2019 government guidelines which would max out the distance from a dwelling at 500m and 600m respectively.
“It is important to point out that the clause does not prevent wind energy development but merely restricts it by preventing massive industrial structures that cause noise pollution and shadow flicker from being sited too close to an occupied dwelling.”
The clause in question, CPO 10.132, will replace another clause , PWIN 6, which is in the current 2014-2020 CDP.
“The almost unanimous decision taken by county councillors in the past to include PWIN 6 was a progressive act that showed our local representatives were willing to balance the rights and health of local residents; the protection of our countryside and its fragile eco-system with the development of sustainable energy,” Ms Gallagher said.
“As chairperson of the North Westmeath Turbine Action Group I feel that it is vital that the public is aware of efforts by the Office of the Planning Regulator that has requested CPO 10.132 be removed from the Draft Westmeath County Development Plan for 2021-27. If the removal of CPO 10.132 is allowed, it will make have serious implications for local rural communities in places like North Westmeath, which have already suffered greatly in terms of rural decline.
“They will be more susceptible to having their health and general well being comprised and their properties devalued and it will render void an essential planning safeguard that is even more necessary in light of the failure to introduce updated national planning guidelines for the construction of giant industrial turbines. In summary, it will likely pave the way for the industrialisation of the Midlands and the unspoilt countryside which is one of our greatest assets will be blighted for decades to come.”
Ms Gallagher explained that NWTAG has lobbied all locally elected representatives asking that they will do all within their power to oppose the removal of CPO 10.132 and lobby the relevant government ministers and departments to ensure its inclusion in the Westmeath County Development Plan 2021-27.
“We are requesting that all of our political representatives do everything possible to protect the people of Westmeath and the fragile environment and landscape in which they live.”
“I really hope that local TDs, county councillors and senators from Longford-Westmeath and Meath East support the people who elected them by ensuring that CPO 10.132 is left as it should be in Westmeath County Development Plan 2021-2027 as it is an important safeguard that can protect communities from giant industrial turbines. It is also important that residents in areas under threat from industrial wind turbine developments lobby Westmeath County Council and their elected representatives by November 15. This can be done via email, letter or phone. Should anyone need any help or advice in that regard they can email us on email@example.com.”