The North Westmeath Turbine Action Group (NWTAG) has called on local people to make submissions to An Bord Pleanála opposing the latest planning application by one of the world’s largest wind energy companies to erect a wind farm on cutaway bog near Coole.
In March, Coole Wind Farm Limited, a subsidiary of Statkraft, applied for planning permission to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) to erect 15 175m turbines in north Westmeath and to lay some 25km of underground cabling from the wind farm to the ESB substation in Irishtown.
Because the proposed development would have an output greater than 50MW, it is classified as a strategic infrastructure development (SID). That means Statkraft was able to apply directly to ABP rather than Westmeath County Council.
In late 2017, Coole Wind Farm Ltd’s original planning permission to erect 13 turbines in Coole was rejected by Westmeath County Council. The firm subsequently appealed the decision to ABP, which gave the project the green light.
However, NWTAG challenged ABP’s decision and secured a judicial review, and is awaiting a decision from the Commercial Court.
The new SID application is the similar to Coole Wind Farm Ltd’s original application currently before the Commercial Court, but with an additional two turbines included, as well as the details for the laying of the 25km of electrical cable to the substation at Irishtown.
Coole Wind Energy Ltd originally applied to Westmeath County Council for planning for the underground cabling but withdrew the application before the decision due date last summer.
With the May 17 deadline for submissions on the SID application approaching, NWTAG chairperson Jen Gallagher has urged people opposed to the development to make their views heard by ABP.
She also noted that proposed development is in “direct contravention” to the wind energy policies in the new Westmeath county development plan, which states that turbines should be at least 10 time their height away from occupied dwellings.
“If allowed to proceed, these 15 giant wind turbines will rise to a height of nearly 60 storeys and dominate the pastoral landscape of, not only north Westmeath, but much further afield and into Cavan, Meath and Longford.
“Those of us standing in opposition to this large scale industrial development are fighting to prevent the industrialisation and destruction of the countryside; fragile wildlife habitats and ecosystems; the devaluation of our homes and the protection of people who will be forced to live with these giant monstrosities on their doorsteps.
“NWTAG will continue to fight this development, not least because the low lying location that has been identified for the sitting of this wind farm is entirely unsuited to wind power generation and we are encouraging people to submit in writing their own objections to An Bord Pleanála stating clearly any issues they have and why they oppose this development. The deadline for submissions is 5.30pm on Monday May 17, 2021.”
Anyone needing help or advice to assist in the drafting of their submissions can email Caroline on firstname.lastname@example.org – make sure to include your return address.
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