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First wind farm application for Mt Leinster falls at the first hurdle

Opponents of a wind turbine development in the Mount Leinster area say serious questions have been raised after the planning application fell at the first hurdle.

Coillte’s proposal for seven 178-metre wind turbines on the slopes of Mount Leinster was formally submitted to Carlow County Council on 15 January but was deemed invalid within a day due to the omission of technical information in layouts and maps.

Cornelia McCarthy, who lives in Kilbranish, about six kilometres from the proposed site, said: “This action raises serious questions about the organisation’s competence and suitability to safely execute such a challenging and dangerous construction project if they can’t even get the planning application right at the first attempt.”

A new application was submitted on Friday by Coillte and is currently being validated by the council. Ms McCarthy criticised the lack of public consultation, stating there was no “town hall meeting” in either 2019 or 2020.

“Despite Covid, there were no webinars or postal drops, no brochures or adverts, until a website went live one week before a first notice appeared in ***The Nationalist*** for planning in December 2020.”

In response, a spokesperson for Coillte said the application follows a “20-month community engagement programme”. All planning documentation was available to view on the project website www.croaghaunwindfarm.ie, which also included a virtual tour of the proposed project.

“The proposed Croaghaun Wind Farm project forms part of Coillte’s contribution to helping both the state and Co Carlow meet emissions reduction targets and plays a role in promoting and sustaining a cleaner, more secure, healthier environment for our children and future generations.”

The spokespersons said it is “not uncommon for certain matters to arise during the validation process for projects of this type and complexity”.

“We confirm that some items were raised by the council on Monday last week, but have since been addressed and reflected in the revised planning pack formally re-submitted on Friday,” said the Coillte spokesperson.