After the Chairman’s introduction and Peter Crossan’s delivery of the presentation questions from the floor included the following points:
A passionate Seamus O’Domnhaill praised GWiG for presenting a “learned opinion” having had to endure spending tens of thousands to protect the civil liberties of their community. He questioned the impact of the massive rollout of turbines on the Donegal landscape with respect to a nominal benefit to the local economy citing the fact that the turbines are manufactured abroad and often the labour for construction is also foreign. Tourism and farming were the back bone of the Countys economy and he posed the question were we selling out to the wind industry. He set down a request that the issue of set back distances and the de-
Marie Therese Gallagher supported Mr O’Domnhaill on this saying that she felt “ashamed” during the last years Oral Hearing into the Straboy wind farm at what the Glenties Wind Farm Information Group and the community had to go through at huge expense and she as a public representative apologised on behalf of the Council. She echoed Cllr O’Domhnaill’s call for reimbursement of the Group and cited the duty of Council to “make good policy” for the communities they represent. She further commented that Council had heard on several occasions from wind developers saying that there was “gold on those hills” and wondered how this sat alongside their monthly platitudes about Tourism. She felt that it was “unfortunate” that Council had not heard the reasoned presentation of GWiG heretofore.
Councillor John Campbell agreed with his fellow cllrs on the issue of costs to small communities. He pointed out that when the CDP was being discussed by cllrs there were 105 amendments and variations and pondered how elected members had often accepted the Manager’s Report “without comment or question”. He realised that the Council must take cognisance on the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) they also need to do this with a balanced view as to the impact of wind developments on the county’s environment and the people. He acknowledged the issues of noise and health in the Inspector’s Report on Straboy and supported the need for meaningful setback distance such as the ten by tip height suggested by GWiG. He stated his belief in that there are “serious flaws”, as outlined, in the current CDP and said that cllrs have heretofore not been “well informed” and commended GWiG for a thorough presentation.
Councillor Frank McBrearty said he was “delighted” to see the group in council’s chambers saying that finally both sides of the argument were being heard. He congratulated GWiG on the great success of their Appeal to An Bord Pleanala and urged them to keep up the fight in protecting their community and the environment.
Councillor John Ryan sought clarification on the fact that currently 125 metres (410 feet) is the highest tip height of turbines in the county.