*Members of the public who were in the gallery for Monday’s Clare County Council meeting. 

ELECTED representatives of Clare County Council have hit out at plans from energy companies to erect wind turbines from Meelick to Bodyke in six different developments.

A submission requesting the Oatfield Windfarm be refused was made by the five councillors in the Killaloe Municipal District at Monday’s sitting of Clare County Council. “The elected members consider the proposed development will have significant negative effects on the environment and is not in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.

This submission was included with a planner’s report by officials in Clare County Council that will be forwarded to An Bord Pleanála who will have the final say on whether the plans proceed. Council Chief Executive, Pat Dowling confirmed he was content for the submission to be added to their report.

Listening attentively in the public gallery for this debate were residents impacted by the various developments lodged for East Clare. Seated among them was Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF).

“We’re facing a proliferation of windfarms,” Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF) warned. “We have serious concerns as to what is going on and what is planned, we are certainly not in favour of the haphazard nature of what is proposed at the moment,” the Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe MD stated.

Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) commented, “Residents in the catchment areas have serious concerns. It is important these serious concerns are dealt with”.

More than one windfarm will manifest in Oatfield, Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) predicted. “I’d say their goal is to go from Meelick to Bodyke,” he said. East Clare’s road infrastructure is not able to cater for the calculated movement every four minutes, he believed.

An “awful impact” has already been experienced in East Clare, Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) cautioned. “We are putting communities under stress, families are falling out with each other and communities are in turmoil”. He stressed the need for proper guidelines at a national level on wind energy and said this opportunity has never been given to councillors.

Criticism of the Government was voiced by Cllr Pat Burke (FG), “The Government have a lot to answer for when asking these multi-million euro investments to come into Ireland”. He added, “There’s enough challenges in rural Ireland without these applications splitting communities”.

Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) admitted he would not like a wind turbine near his home. “I fully support you and know the visual impact it will have on a beautiful side of the countryside”. Flickering is a “valid” concern for impacted residents to have.

There is “a necklace of windfarms” forming in East Clare, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) observed. “My own opinion is that local communities are denuded fromthe process at Council level, in turn in undermines the transparency that should be at the heart of planning”. He noted that there are 88 dwellings situated within 1500m of the turbines.

“Those who are promoting the wind turbines in my view are in cloud cuckoo land, they are talking about exporting energy into the not too distant future, did someone forget to tell them there’s many projects in England planning to produce from atomic energy and they can export energy for a fraction of the price they are producing at the moment,” Cllr PJ Kelly (FF) remarked.

Representatives of the wind industry need to know what has sufficed over the last two decades is not appropriate, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) maintained. “We’re here because of successive Governments failing to grab the nettle which is wind energy and its opportunities”.

Support was voiced by Cllr Michael Begley (IND) while Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) expressed concern on the risk of the damaging what is a “fabulous amenity” at the 12 O’Clock Hills. Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) suggested that the Minister be asked “to suspend all windfarm developments until adjudicated on by members of the local authority”. Such power doesn’t extend to councillors, the Chairman replied.

Sixmilebridge is already “a bottleneck” from 5pm every evening, Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) highlighted. “If this goes ahead there will be queues as far back as Shannon from 4pm in the evening. With the guidelines, it is like we’re working with our hands tied behind our back”. He said, “there will be a chain coming from Meelick all the way to Bodyke, I don’t think if An Bord Pleanála knew what was happening that they would back it”.

According to Cllr John Crowe (FG) “bullyboy tactics” have been used by companies involved. Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) and Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) also lended their support to the submission.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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