*An impression of the Lackreach Wind Farm. 

ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES have criticised energy companies for producing “shiny brochures” but failing to engage with politicians on their proposals.

More comprehensive engagement from developers of wind energy sites in South-East Clare was sought by Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF).

Both residents and councillors remain dissatisfied with the lack of knowledge and information on the proposed wind farms, in total 66 wind turbines could be constructed in six different developments.

Wind farms have been a talking points in East Clare for a year with members of the public holding a series of meetings in various localities.

Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) demanded the wind energy sites to engage with the East Clare locals and Council members to acquire clarity on the dispute. “In light of all these wind energy sites been proposed from Ballycar, 12 O’Clock Hills, Oatfield, Caherhurley and surrounding area, that a more robust consultation with residents, councillors and the MD office be held as people are not happy with same,” he stated in a proposal before the Killaloe Municipal District.

Senior executive planner with Clare County Council, Gareth Ruane explained that third-party views regarding the development in question will be made in relation to windfarm applications submitted directly to the Planning Authority during the appropriate time periods which is outlined in the Planning Regulations. He outlined, “the Planning Authority has no statutory role in the level or extent of consultation to be provided by individual applicants”.

Ruane stated, “The adopted Clare County Development Plan (2023-2029) incorporates a renewable energy strategy and a wind energy strategy. These documents together with the plan itself set out the overall planning framework for renewable energy developments within the County. Certain windfarm applicants (25 no. turbines or output of 50MW or more) are required to be made to An Bord Pleanála as Strategic Infrastructure Developments”.

Although he acknowledged the reply from Ruane, Cllr O’Callaghan questioned why the energy companies were not engaging. “I’m not against wind turbines. People in the area need to be better briefed, some people don’t even realise some of these turbines are up to 180 m high. The whole thing is very frustrating”.

Public consultation has been “bulldozed,” the Kilmurry representative commented. “There isn’t even any communication when they are going from door to door with the brochures. I’ve seen CCTV footage where a person pulls up and throws in a public consultation, and there gone. It’s being bulldozed and trying to take it all in is very mind boggling”.

All elected members of the Killaloe MD backed the motion from O’Callaghan. Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) was frustrated that public consultation for the Oatfield wind farm took place in Castleconnell and not in Co Clare. “Communities are very concerned about this topic. I actually did put venues in place for several consultations, but they weren’t taken up and it’s a disgrace the consultation to be taken at a venue outside of our own county”.

“We do get these shiny brochures in the post but it doesn’t really justify what’s going on,” Cllr Pat Burke (FG) remarked. “We did meet one company in Kilbane, but it is very frustrating and confusing for people over in that area that weren’t there and for the rest of East Clare. We don’t have the knowledge because we’re not getting these briefings from the company. They need to explain what’s going on and give a true explanation”.

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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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