The executive of Waterford City and County Council is to seek legal advice, after councillors voted by a large majority to alter a wind-energy strategy map on the county development, reportedly to prevent a wind turbine development.
The townland of Knockanore in west Waterford is being targeted for a massive wind-farm proposal by German energy company, Innogy, through its subsidiary, Innogy Renewables Ireland Ltd.
Fianna Fáil councillor James Tobin, who lives in the locality, tabled an emergency motion at a council meeting to discuss the proposal. The councillor said he represented 800 people in his parish alone and his motion reflected their rejection of wind turbines in a locality noted for its natural beauty.
The energy company had submitted a pre-planning consultation request directly to Bord Pleanála, in regard to “the potential for developing a renewable energy project in the vicinity of Lyrenacarriga and surrounding areas”. The proposed plan is understood to include 25 turbines, 150 metres high, on 3, 500 acres of Coillte and privately owned land straddling the Waterford - Cork border.
Mr Tobin said the motion was cognisant that Waterford Council had been prevented from drawing up a county development plan in 2017, due to the 2014 city - and county amalgamation.
However. without a new development plan “until around 2022”, he feared it would be “too late” for the county.
Fianna Fáil councillor Tom Cronin, meanwhile, accused the Government of leaving Waterford “in limbo”, by preventing it from drawing up a development plan earlier. He said while people were denied one-off housing developments, due to landscape considerations, “huge industrial turbines are considered ok.”
However, the council’s CEO, Michael Walsh, said the authority may have to seek legal advice. He said that as the motion “intended to prevent a development”, with potential consequences, he would have to revert to legal advice authorities.
He undertook to inform the councillors of any decision in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Labour councillor John Pratt said he was one of many councillors contacted by Innogy, through email, advising that in opposing the development, the council would be “setting a very dangerous precedent for the county”, which “could jeopardise future inward investment”.
The sole dissenter was metropolitan-based Independent Joe Conway, who said wind energy helped reduce electricity costs and confidence should be placed in planning authorities.
- by Christy Parker, Irish Examiner