- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

‘What is being planned for Coole outrageous’ – Guirke and Clarke

Sinn Féin TDs Sorca Clarke and Johnny Guirke have lodged a joint submission with An Bord Pleanála opposing the latest application by Coole Wind Farm LTD to construct fifteen 175m turbines in north Westmeath.

“If allowed to proceed,” Deputy Guirke said, “these 15 giant turbines will do irreparable damage to the local landscape and its impact on the health and well-being of people will be significant and long lasting.

“Sorca and I have objected to this application on a number of grounds including the fact that it contravenes clauses in the current and pending Westmeath County Development plans that are designed to prevent turbines of this size being located too close to people’s homes. The clause P WIN 6 for example, ensures a 1-10 setback distance yet in this latest application the two additional turbines will be sited within 700 metres of an occupied dwelling which even contravenes the existing wholly inadequate revised turbine guidelines.

“This Friday,” continued Deputy Guirke, “I will be hosting an online meeting with the tourism sector to see what we can do to promote this region that encompasses Meath West, Longford, Westmeath and Cavan. It is an area that has its own unique beauty and is rich in history which, if promoted properly, could greatly regenerate towns and villages that have suffered from decades of neglect and underinvestment.”

Deputy Sorca Clarke also made clear her total and unequivocal opposition to the Coole wind farm which she said was to be constructed in an area with some of the lowest mean wind speeds in the country and she also commended the work of the North Westmeath Turbine Action Group for what it had done in fighting the construction of the industrial wind farm.

“This development,” she said, “has little to do with generating clean, green energy as its carbon footprint alone will negate any advantages accruing from turbine generated electricity. The thousands of tonnes of concrete needed in its construction will leech into the bog and water table causing untold damage and pollution for generations and after 25 years these turbines and their foundations will be left to rot in the cutaway bog on which most are to be erected.

“The reality is,” continued Deputy Clarke, “that the FF, FG and Green coalition government have, like previous administrations, decided the midlands can be ring-fenced and its countryside industrialised for the generation of wind energy. The height and scale of these turbines, which if permitted will be more than twice the height of Mullingar Cathedral and built on an elevated site 75 m above sea level, would mean the turbines dominating the highest natural structure in the entire county the Hill of Mael and what is being planned for Coole is nothing short of outrageous.

“Statkraft, the company behind this application, has cynically tried to bypass local planning authorities by submitting an application that attempts to present itself as Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID). It is nothing of the sort as the minimum number of turbines needed to qualify for this status is 24 and the output generated by Coole Wind Farm falls well short of an SID.

“If allowed, these turbines will devalue local properties, affect people’s health, destroy the local countryside and natural wildlife habitats and prevent the development of a sustainable tourism strategy for this entire region. For all of the above reasons and many more we strongly oppose the project and Sinn Féin will do everything within its power to prevent its construction,” Deputy Clarke said.