Offaly Reaching Capacity On Wind Farms

Thursday, 27 April 2017

OFFALY could soon reach a point where no further wind farms will be allowed, a planning official said this week.
Addressing a meeting of the County Council, planner Andrew Murray said it was his view that the cumulative effect of further wind farms could spell the end of any additional developments.
'As and when more wind farms are permitted, cumulative impact is going to become more and more relevant and pertinent,' said Mr Murray.
'It gets harder to get permission for another wind farm because of that cumulative impact. Because they are huge structures on the landscape.'
His comments came after An Bord Pleanala cleared the way for Offaly's biggest wind farm to go ahead.
The board decided that an underground cable connecting the 29-turbine Yellow River wind farm between Rhode and Croghan to a substation is exempt from a requirement for planning permission.
The Bord na Mona wind farm at Mountlucas has 28 turbines and a decision on a 22-turbine project from the same energy company for Cloncreen is expected very soon.
Element Power has consulted householders about a 15-turbine wind farm between Geashill, Walsh Island and Cloneygowan but has not yet applied for planning permission.
In West Offaly a nine-turbine project near Cloghan has planning approval but is subject to a judical review while another, Meenwaun, with up to five turbines, is being constructed.
There is a two-turbine facility at Leabeg, Lumcloon, Boora and the planning decision on it predated Offaly's adoption of a wind strategy in 2009.
'We're not that many wind farm applications away from deciding that we've played our part in achieving the transition [to wind power],' said Mr Murray.
A decision councillors took in 2014 to ban wind turbines from within two kilometres of town and village centres means that just 27 per cent of the area formerly available for such developments can now be considered.
Cllr Martin O'Reilly, Sinn Fein, was told on Monday that a review of the existing county development plan, which governs wind farm projects, will begin early next year.
Cllr O'Reilly said he hoped Offaly could adopt the same position as Laois, Westmeath and Donegal where vast areas were ruled out for consideration for wind energy.
'If we can do it, why not do it? Laois are doing it, Westmeath and Donegal are doing it,' said Cllr O'Reilly.
Cllr Liam Quinn, Fine Gael, said the other impacts should be considered in the Rhode area, which is already the location of a kinetic energy plant, has planning approval for a 200-acre solar power farm, the Yellow River wind farm, a peaking plant, a gas-fired power station and sites suitable for heavy industry on the North Offaly Development Board site.
He called for greater investment in roads and said the chair of the Edenderry Municipal District should have a seat on the community gain fund committees which are set up when wind farms are constructed.


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