At a special meeting of Donegal County Council on June 30th 2014, County Councillors
adopted a variation to the County Development Plan which will see new
conditions imposed on wind farm developments.
This will require a greater level of scrutiny for wind farm applications which might in the future be submitted within the catchments of the Six Sub Basin Districts designated for the protection of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel. These areas are now to be zoned as not favoured for wind farm development.
"The second strategically important aspect of the variation from the public's point of view is the requirement that turbines be not located within ten times their tip height of homes, schools etc. This is important for the protection of residential amenity and addresses the previous decision of the Council in 2012 to remove all prescribed set back distances from homes etc." said a spokesperson for Glenties Wind Farm information group, Mr. Ernan O'Donnell.
GWiG also welcomed the rejectIon by Councillors of the third proposed variation which would have reduced the protection afforded to the visual zone of influence from Glenveagh National Park. GWiG described the proposed reduction of this protective measure as an attack on the very fabric of the County's most important and recognised tourism attraction. The fact that this proposal was instigated by a wind farm developer from Co. Kerry, illustrates how those with influence from outside the County can be enabled to direct Policy that is to the detriment of the County's interest. 98% of the 3,300 plus submissions received by the Council as part of the public consultation on the proposed variations were supportive of GWiG's position regarding the Sub Basin Districts and set back distances and opposed to any undermining of the material asset to the County that Glenveagh National Park represents as our main tourist attraction.
The Group complimented all the Councillors who supported their position and in particular the newly elected Councillors who had to reach an understanding on what was a complex series of issues within a short time frame and against a background of the recommendation by the Councillors CEO that the proposed variations not be adopted.
Monday was a long day for everyone and the Group wish to acknowledge the significant contribution made by Councillor John Campbell who first introduced their motions during the lifetime of the last Council in November 2013, Councillor Marie Therese Gallagher and Councillor Seamus O'Domhnaill who were supportive of the Group throughout this process, and who had faith and trust in their reliance on the evidence base put forward by the Group in support of their position. Also the Group wish to acknowledge the great debt they owe their planning consultant Mr. Peter Crossan who has advised them and worked along side them since the summer of 2012, and encouraged their engagement in this process which has finally concluded with a successful outcome for all of the people of Donegal.
The final vote was also significant in that Councillors from all parties, and none, voted together in support of the variations put forward by GWiG, and also overwhelmingly voted to retain the constraints placed on wind farm development around Glenveagh National Park.