Kerry councillors have rejected proposals for further wind development following a passionate meeting held to discuss the new County Development Draft Plan at County Buildings on Wednesday.
Councillors were unanimous in stopping wind development under the draft plan, outlining that Kerry had ‘done its bit for wind energy’, particularly in north Kerry were it was stated communities are suffering because of wind energy policy.
Kerry County Council (KCC) management said its planners had reduced the area available for wind development under the new plan by 90 percent compared to 2014.
However, councillors were not dissuaded and weighed in with a mix of angry and emotive responses against further development. This resulted in having the areas proposed for wind farm zoning removed from the current draft plan proposals.
KCC CEO Moira Murrell appealed to councillors, calling the plans ‘logical and measured’ based on extensive methodology. She defended the draft plan saying any divergence from it would be difficult to explain and would erode the plan’s ‘methodology’.
Ms Murrell cautioned councillors that resistance to wind development risked an intervention from the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) to take unilateral action.
This could result in ceding control to an adjudicating body to intervene on the side of national policy.
“There are certain risks if this was revisited…it puts the interaction with the regulator in a different place,” Ms Murrell said.
Cllr Niall O’Callaghan (Ind) responded angrily saying the regulator had no reason to ‘blow Kerry out of the water’ when the existing scale of wind development in the county is looked at on the map.
KCC received 1,476 objections alone specifically relating to zoning lands in Scartaglin as being ‘suitable for wind development’ – despite an operable wind farm in the locality already. This area (Area 18) was removed from the plan.
After a short recess, councillors voted to accept an amended version that stated all areas currently proposed in the draft plan for wind development be removed, except where local communities are developing proposals for onshore community projects, including town lands in Kilgarvan.
Agreement for this was based on an understanding that the scale of wind development in certain areas is already excessive, including those not as yet constructed.
It was agreed that certain areas should not be expected to facilitate additional turbines as a limit has been reached.
Lastly, in order to comply with national wind energy targets, the promotion of alternative forms of renewable energy, including offshore wind energy, would be considered within the guidelines of local planning objectives.
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