Minutes of the Meeting called by Blackwater Wind Aware and Innogy Renewables
2-3pm, Thursday, 13th December 2018
BLACKWATER WIND AWARE
Paddy Massey, BWA Chair and Chair of the meeting
Ava Farrington, BWA Secretary
Innogy Renewables Ireland
McCarthy Keville O'Sullivan
Ann Mulcrone introduced this topic by stating that this meeting, called by the Blackwater Wind Aware group, was not part of the public consultation process and could not be deemed to be so. This was agreed unanimously by everyone in the room.
Discussion was held on the record of correspondence and requests for information:
Brian Keville said that after 15 years experience of working on these developments his firm had decided that it was uncomfortable sharing information with the community prior to the turbine and location details being finalised. Innogy thought that, to do so, would cause unnecessary uncertainty. Although that might change in the future.
Ann Mulcrone asked for it to be recorded that the developer ‘was not comfortable sharing information with the community’. AM emphasised that it was not up to the developer to decide what they could or could not share. There was an obligation under the EU Directive to divulge certain information in a timely manner and not to wait till the application was lodged before letting the community in on the information and to engage in robust and meaningful public consultation. This could not take place in the absence of the necessary information on the project.
Paddy Massey said that If it was the intention of the developer to cause undue stress and anxiety to the community Innogy Renewables Ireland had succeeded in doing so.
Paddy Massey then asked the developers to provide a full package of layout and baseline information, with answers to the questions that had been sent to them by BWA ten months previously. Paddy Massey said Innogy’s work in relation to the pre planning for their application over the past ten months had been disingenuous and worthless and door stepping people in their own homes was deemed intimidating.
Charlie Langley defended the ‘individual approach’ as some people such as Cathal Hennessy’s parents would not be confident to attend a ‘public meeting’.
The Innogy team gave no response to the revelation that letters from Innogy Renewables Ireland had been stuck under stones in people’s gardens and hurriedly pushed through their letter boxes with no face-to-face engagement, even though it would have been clear to the Innogy team that people were at home as their cars were in their drive ways.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN 2018:
Paddy Massey then provided a time-line for communications/lack of communications thus far.
February 12th: Letter re. wind test mast delivered to some houses within 1km of the mast.
March 7th: First Community Meeting, called by Cllr James Tobin. Chair and Secretary of BWA elected.
April 9th: List of 23 questions sent by BWA to Innogy via email and post.
April 30th: Invitation sent by BWA to Innogy to an ‘Open Meeting’ on 3rd May. Innogy declined to attend
May 3rd: ‘BWA Open Meeting for the Community’ held in Knockanore Community Hall
May 5th: Innogy booked the Community Hall for ’Innogy Information Event’ on 31st May
May 29th: Application for SID lodged by Innogy Renewables Ireland
May 31st: Innogy Information Event in Knockanore Community Hall where the Innogy team said the SID was to be lodged in the future, when in fact it had already been lodged a couple of days earlier.
June/July/August: No contact over the summer months.
Sept : John Aston active, subcontractor to McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan/ Innogy - visiting homes.
Nov : Questionnaires and visits to home owners by Innogy in a 2km area
Paddy Massey made clear that the Community needed answers to the original 23 questions sent to Innogy and in addition all the information prepared for An Bord Pleanala in the past 10 months.
This to be received by the committee by Tuesday December 18th at 5pm.
Lorraine Meehan stated that baseline noise monitoring could not be carried out until the location of the turbines had been decided. However, baseline noise monitoring had been attempted in May 2018 in people’s gardens. (Baseline noise monitoring is not dependent on turbine lay-out.)
Brian Keville insisted that no definitive conclusions had not yet been reached and they continued to look at alternative positions for the turbines.
Brian Keville said the project ‘would take as long as it takes; it was all part of an iterative process’. He continued, MKOS had their job representing their clients and BWA had their own consultants who would work hard on their behalf and that the arbiter would be An Bord Pleanala.
Charles Langley maintained that the home visits were welcomed by some in the community and would be continued.
Ava Farrington and Declan Butler told those present of the repercussions of the proposed project on their lives, their families and that of the community, highlighting the rifts emerging between the landowners who had signed up and their neighbours. They mentioned the trauma of uncertainty for the future.
Declan Butler asked Cathal Hennessy why, when he was the CEO and the person who had signed letters to the community and to the Councillors, was he now sitting absolutely silent in the meeting.
Ann Mulcrone agreed with an iterative process but for that to happen it was essential for the community to have the same baseline material, there is a team of experts in place to assess and review the EIA and the planning application and it is essential that this information is forwarded to the community in order that an informed response may be made. AM asked if they had brought the the up to date material on the project for discussion at the meeting. Brian Keville responded that no they did not bring any documentation. AM then requested that Innogy forward all documentation prepared to date to the community by close of business on Tuesday 18th December 2018.
Paddy Massey then said it was clear from the continued obfuscation from Innogy that there was no desire from the developer to engage with the community in any meaningful way, recognising and respecting their strong opposition and the stress already created.
Paddy Massey then drew the meeting to a close, reminding Innogy that BLACKWATER WIND AWARE expected to receive the relevant information by 5pm on December 18th 2018.