“Standing-room Only” at wind turbine meeting

South Wicklow Wind Action Group (SWWAG) the community-based sustainable development organisation, hosted a “Standing-room Only” public meeting last Friday, 16th January, when over 300 concerned local residents turned up in Lawless’s Hotel, Aughrim.

Slide Presentation
To kick off the meeting, award-winning local photographer Miley Carroll gave a 20-minute presentation of a selection of slides, shot at several locations throughout the area. These pictures showed “before” and “after” views of twelve 150 metre high turbines super-imposed on the higher slopes of Ballymanus Hill, the location for the proposed development by ABO Wind Ltd. They brought home the enormous scale of such a development, and left the attendance in no doubt as to the devastating impact it would have on a huge area of South Wicklow.

SWWAG spokesman, Jack Lynch, then took the meeting through the background to the proposal now with the County Council, explaining that it was just one part of a much bigger scheme to surround the entire area between Croghan Mountain and Ballymanus, and running west from Aughrim to Tinahely, with up to 50 similarly-sized Industrial Wind Turbines, plans for which were first uncovered by SWWAG during last Summer. He showed the almost inconspicuous notice published by ABO Wind in the Wicklow People newspaper to make the local community aware of their supposed “Public Meeting” which, ABO say, was attended by 40 people. “SWWAG’s meeting tonight, attended by over 300 people, seems to me more like genuine Public Consultation” he said.

Negative Impacts, Danger to Wildlife, Archaeology and Human Health
Jack then detailed the negative impact this development will have on Tourism, and the danger it will cause to Wildlife -including Red Kite, Grouse, Bats and a very rare butterfly, all known to be resident in the threatened area. He also emphasized the importance of protecting the ancient Archaeological sites adjacent to the proposed turbine site, and Preban graveyard which contains priceless evidence of Neolithic stone artwork dating back to between 2,000 and 3000 B.C.

He went on to spell out the negative impact on Health of the local population that Shadow Flicker and Noise created by turbines can cause. He concluded by appealing to everyone who really wishes to protect this area from the devastating impacts of wind turbines present to submit objection letters to Wicklow County Council.

Councillors Vincent Blake and Shay Cullen FG, Mary McDonald SF, and Pat Casey and Pat Kennedy FF were in attendance as was Andrew Doyle TD. All Councillors spoke in support of SWWAG’s position.
and said they will make their own individual objection to the ABO proposal. Andrew Doyle conceded
there was lack of consultation on this project and he also raised his hand when politicians were asked
would they submit an objection to the proposed development.

Other Guest Speakers
Sean Cullinan representing Rethink Pylons travelled from Waterford and also spoke of the need to submit objections. He then discussed Planning law, Judicial Reviews and other High Court proceedings
Kieran Hartley, FF European election candidate, also travelled from Waterford and spoke of the need to
protect rural areas from industrialisation for the sake of wind energy generation.
Alan Kelly, who lives beside Lettergunnet windfarm in Galway spoke about his experience living next to
wind turbines.
All guest speakers who addressed the meeting supported SWWAG’s postion.

A wide range of topics was raised in questions from the floor. These included

• The need to obtain professional advice (which SWWAG has done),
• What is the true cost of wind-generated Electricity?
• How many of the twelve turbines will be on Coillte land?
• The likelihood that individuals seeking permission to build a house in the area would find it more difficult to get approval
• Understood that a number of house sales in the area which were Sale Agreed have fallen through.
• Individuals have to go through a very strict process to get planning permission. Why do these commercial companies not have to go through a similar strict process?

Assistance with preparing Objections
Everyone attending the meeting who needed help in preparing a letter of Objection was offered sample Objection letters to use as a guide to writing their own. SWWAG representatives will be available at Lawless’s Hotel in Aughrim on Friday 23rd and Wednesday 28th January from 8pm to 9pm to receive completed submissions for dispatch to Wicklow County Council, or to give any further information or advice with preparing submissions. Alternatively individuals may post or personally deliver their own submissions directly to Wicklow County Council Planning Department. If posting then it was strongly recommended this should be done no later than 28th January, to ensure delivery before the deadline of 3.30 p.m. on Wednesday 4th February. Further information and advice may be obtained by contacting John O’Driscoll (087 753 9476) or Jack Lynch (087 941 7642)

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