Further calls have been made to amend Waterford’s county development plan to exclude wind turbines in an area where 300 homes could be impacted by them.
The proposed, 3,500-acre site, partly owned by Coillte and private landowners, extends into Co Cork.
The city and county council chairman, Declan Doocey, tabled a motion, calling on the local authority’s CEO, Michael Walsh, to “initiate a process” of varying the 2011 plan by re-designating, from suitable to unsuitable, on an energy strategy map.
Mr Walsh did not respond, but 25 councillors backed the motion, reiterating a call for an amendment. One member abstained.
The promoter, Innogy Renewables, has already applied to An Bord Pleanála for ‘strategic infrastructure’ status for the project, which would entitle it to bypass the local authorities and seek planning directly from the board.
Objectors insist the proposed development would have a negative impact on more than 300 homes, with serious health implications for many through flicker effect, shadow, and noise.
There are also fears that the construction process will infiltrate streams feeding into Youghal’s water supply. Permission for a landfill site in the area, 20 years ago, had been refused, due to a risk to water supplies.
Last month, residents sent 100 handwritten letters and a video to Innogy SE’s directors, rejecting the proposal. Paddy Massey, chairman of the anti-windfarm Blackwater Wind Aware community group, says the county development plan commits to protecting special areas of conservation within the designated area and the scenic routes bordering it.
He claimed the county development plan and the wind-energy strategy map “contradict each other”.
Last summer, Mr Walsh rejected a motion to amend the development plan in an area centred on Tallow. At the time, he labelled the motion too site-specific and “designed to frustrate a specific development proposal”, while conflicting with national policy.
Mr Walsh had also advised that the move could also expose the council to “enormous legal and financial risk”.
The advice, it emerged, had directed the motion be re-submitted, with the wording altered to instruct officials to “initiate the process”.
Mr Massey suggested the development plan “belongs to the elected representatives, not the executive” and that officials had a duty to “act as instructed.”
- by Christy Parker, Irish Examiner