An Bord Pleanala has refused planning permission for the construction of a nine turbine wind farm on the Comeragh mountains.
The decision has been welcomed by the Comeragh Community Wind Farm Awareness Group who have opposed the plan which had already been rejected by Waterford County Council and by Deputy Mattie McGrath.
Conor O’Brien, spokesperson for The Comeragh Community Wind Farm Awareness Group (“CCWFAG”) said they were delighted with An Bórd Pleanála’s decision to uphold the earlier decision of Waterford County Council to refuse to grant permission for nine wind turbines spanning across the westerly tip of the Comeragh Mountains.
Ecopower Developments Limited had applied to construct nine wind turbines with tip heights of up to 127m in height along the western ridges of the Comeraghs, 5kms south of Clonmel.
Waterford County Council had originally refused the proposed development on the grounds of visual intrusion on the vulnerable and sensitive landscape contrary to the Wind Energy Guidelines, 2006 as issued by the Department of the Environment.
Mr O’Brien said they were pleased that An Bórd Pleanála went a significant step further than Waterford County Council and drew particular attention to the developer’s failure to take proper account of visual impacts on the landscape, potential impacts on tourism along the East Munster Way, impacts on water quality, inadequate proposals in relation to drainage management, transportation and inadequate assessment of the local road improvements.
Mr O’Brien said that An Bórd Pleanála were to be applauded for their insight and recognition of the concerns raised by the group itself and the wider community.
“CCWFAG are confident that this damning refusal will serve as a deterrent for would-be developers who fail to take all the relevant factors into account when formulating a Wind Turbine development and most importantly, for failing to engage with a close knit community,” he said.
The CCWFAG spokesperson vowed not to drop their guard in relation to the protection of their area. The group is now going to turn its attention to the rezoning of the area from its current status of “preferred” to “No Go” in the Wind Energy Strategy of the Waterford County Development Plan.
“To this effect, the group is calling on everybody interested in preserving the integrity of the area, including those who do not reside in the area, to contact their local elected representatives and conveying this message to them,” he said..
Mr O’Brien said the group would encourage all communities to stand up for what they believe to be inappropriate development and this outcome from An Bórd Pleanála was testimony that the power harnessed from a united community is a force to be reckoned with.
The group praised members of the community who were motivated to raise objections to the proposed wind farm and said that over 180 individual letters of objection were submitted at the local council level alone.
“Sincere gratitude is extended to those elected representatives who assisted the group and the group would encourage all elected representatives to do the right thing and support the “Wind Turbines Bill 2012” that is currently going through the legislative channels in the Houses of the Oireachtas,” said the group spokesperson.
Deputy Mattie McGrath congratulated the people of West Waterford for mounting a strong campaign against the wind farm proposal.
“I believe that this is the correct decision as this proposed wind farm would be unsuitable to the area. This is a rural area and it would have serious consequences on the local environment and thus on the tourism sector for the wider community” he said.