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Call to ban onshore windfarm developments in Clare

Councillor Ian Lynch has described the West Clare Municipal District (WCMD) as “saturated with windfarms”.
Addressing the July meeting of the district, he warned that the landscape and the viability of rural communities could be destroyed unless such a ban is imposed.
The Independent member also said that with the future development of offshore wind energy infrastructure at the Moneypoint site, the need for more onshore facilities no longer exists.
“West Clare is saturated with windfarms already and allowing planning permission for more of these developments will irreversibly destroy the natural landscape, the scenic beauty and the viability of rural communities,” Councillor Lynch said.
The Kilrush native noted that the currently County Development Plan has designated the area as strategic in terms of wind energy production, but said members are now working to remove that designation.
“This is not anti-Green or renewable energy,” Councillor Lynch insisted, “however these industrial developments are now encroaching on residential areas.
“We in WCMD have played our part in the development of wind energy and in light of out-of-date guidelines and the increased viability of offshore developments, for example the Moneypoint offshore farm, the need for onshore windfarm developments is no longer a key priority.”
Councillor Lynch added that, with windfarms moving closer to centres of population, residents are increasingly opposed to them.
“There have been many windfarm developments in remote areas of the locality which were developed without any resistance to in the past, as these are developed in areas of lesser population density,” he said.
“However, developments are starting to creep into populated rural areas and that is not acceptable.”
Councillor listed the negative aspects of onshore windfarms as their size and scale, shadow flicker, noise, devaluation of their property, potential slippage, concerns over water pollution, damage to wildlife habitats, interference with broadband signals and sensory overload – especially for those on the autism spectrum.
In a written response to Councillor Lynch’s motion, Helen Quinn, senior planner, noted that the assessment of applications is an executive function and that the planning authority must have regard to the relevant legislation and policies.
“All planning applications are assessed on their own merits … and as such it is not considered appropriate or legal, to impose a cessation on the granting of planning permissions for onshore windfarms,” the reply stated.
Ms Quinn noted that the council is awaiting the publication of new Wind Energy Guidelines at a national level.
These “will provide for further guidance on new wind energy developments and which will inform any new Wind Energy Strategy that will be prepared by the Council,” the response said.