Westmeath County Council has turned down an application for a controversial 150m wind turbine just outside Castlepollard.
More than 20 objections had been lodged with the council opposing the erection of the ‘Glor’ community turbine at Loughanstown, which was the subject of a planning application lodged in December by Natural Forces Renewable Energy Limited.
A spokesperson for the firm said that if given the green light, the turbine, which was to have an overall tip height of “up to” 150m, would be “100 per cent community owned”.
The chairperson of the North Westmeath Turbine Action Group (NWTAG) Jennifer Gallagher, has paid tribute to Westmeath County Council for refusing planning permission for the development: “The construction of a 4.2MW industrial-scale wind turbine with an overall tip height of 150m from ground level would have been detrimental to the people living in this beautiful unspoilt part of North Westmeath,” she said.
“It would have blighted the landscape; damaged the natural environment and impacted on sensitive wildlife habitats both locality and further afield.”
Ms Gallagher said that if permitted, the turbine would have been contrary to Westmeath County Development Plan clauses which are designed to protect the environment, landscape, habitats, wildlife, designated sites and the residents of County Westmeath.
“Moreover, this development would have detracted from the amenities in the area and resulted in significant property depreciation and contravene proper planning and development in a part of the county that has suffered a significant decline that has worsened during the Covid crisis,” Jennifer said.
She added that the NWTAG are not against genuine micro, small or medium-scale renewable energy developments which are rooted and developed in the local community and service local need.
“We support and applaud such endeavours but the Glor Community Turbine was a community turbine in name only as the vast majority of people living locally were unaware of the planning application and that it would be 150 metres in height,” she said.
Local Sinn Féin TDs Sorca Clarke (Longford Westmeath constituency) and Johnny Guirke (Meath West constituency) also submitted an objection to the proposed development.
They said that in addition to the application contravening “at least two of Westmeath County Council’s guidelines in relation to set back distances”, the developer failed to consult with community groups and residents.
Another of the objections came from the well known environmentalist Peter Sweetman. In his submission he cited his successful High Court appeal against An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission to Bord na Móna for a wind farm in Longford.
The approval from An Bord Pleanála was quashed on the grounds that the application did not contain all the necessary details.
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