Published: Tuesday, 24th September, 2013 6:56pm
Fears new areas of Offaly are to be opened to wind energy development as part of a county development plan from 2014-2020 due to be adopted next week have today (Tuesday) been allayed.
A statement from Eamonn Dooley on behalf of the council’s Fianna Fail councillors was issued earlier today, to give clarity to what it described as “misinformation” in the public domain that is causing distress within communities across Offaly.
“The initial pre-draft development plan was issued to all county councillors in early August,” the statement explained. “This draft included wording which if adopted could in effect deem the whole county, including areas of high amenity, open for consideration for the development of wind farms. This issue was raised at all area committee meetings in September and councillors highlighted our concerns and asked that any reference to ‘large-scale’ wind energy development be removed and asked that the buffer-zones and areas of designation which exist in the current plan, remaind unchanged.
“Last Monday week (September 16) the most recent pre-draft proposed wind energy strategy was brought before the councillors in the Tullamore electoral area and councillors were briefed fully and advised that as requested by the elected members the wording in respect of the issues mentioned above had been removed and had reverted to the wording in the existing plan. On Tuesday the revised pre-draft issued on CD to all elected members of Offaly County Council and it is this revised pre-draft strategy which is for decision on next Monday.”
The statement added that it is unfair to the general public to give any impression that the whole of Offaly has been opened up for consideration for large scale projects.
“That is completely untrue and disingenuous of anybody who makes that assertion,” it said. “Our Fianna Fail group is in favour of retaining the existing wind energy strategy but with more protection to villages and areas of high amenity within the areas which are designated as suitable for wind energy and I know that councillors on an individual basis have met with concerned groups and have re-iterated this position.”
Cllr Dooley also gave a strong indication that wind strategy changes will not be adopted. “We have obviously been liaising with our colleagues across the chamber and without pre-empting any decisions which the collective council will make on Monday next, I can say that I have yet to meet one public representative who would be in favour of changing our current wind strategy,” he said.
Today’s statement comes a day after details of Offaly County Council’s submission to the Department of the Environment’s renew of wind energy guidelines were revealed.
The council’s submission reportedly advises that a precautionary approach should be taken to the development of large scale wind turbines close to midland homes, and adds that the impact of large turbines on noise sensitive locations is relatively untested.