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Maighne Wind Farm Update – January 2015

Wind Turbine

Wind Turbine

I have been following the development of wind energy for some time now, having been involved with residents in Eadestown regarding a much smaller project.  I have only in recent months become aware of the proposed Maighne Wind Farm project and I must say that I find some aspects of the project alarming.  While in principle, I don’t have an issue with the development of wind energy, I am concerned by the size and scale of this project and my primary concern is the proposed proximity of turbines to people’s homes.

Last year I made a submission to the Department of the Environment’s Review of the 2006 Wind Energy Guidelines.  The main point of my submission was to extend the setback distances, which I feel if left unchanged will have a very negative impact on local communities.  For some time now, I have been pursuing the Minister to publish these new guidelines and I understand that they will be published shortly.

Another very important aspect of this project is to ensure that appropriate environmental impact assessments are carried out.  In recent judicial review proceedings (O’Grianna & Ors v An Bord Pleanala), the High Court quashed the decision of An Bord Pleanala for 6 wind turbines in Co. Cork.  This was based on their finding that An Bord Pleanala failed to ensure that the grid connection for the project was included as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).  This is an important case, which will be relevant to other projects including the proposed Maighne Wind Farm, as projects risk being overturned if appropriate EIAs are not conducted.

I understand that the Maighne Wind Farm project is currently in the pre-planning phase, with meetings happening between Element Power and An Bord Pleanala.  The purpose of those pre-planning meetings is to determine if the project can be considered as ‘strategic infrastructure’.  If so determined, the project will bypass the council planning stage completely and be dealt with entirely by An Bord Pleanala.  Once this determination is made, there will follow an 8 week public consultation period during which members of the public can make submissions. I intend to draft a submission outlining my objection to this project and I would encourage anyone with similar concerns to do likewise.  People can track the progression of the planning application via An Bord Pleanala’s website http://www.pleanala.ie/