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Green light for major Offaly wind farm

Story by Olga Aughey

Thursday, 18th May, 2017 4:25pm

Green light for major Offaly wind farm

Bord na Mona Powergreen Ltd has been granted permission to construct 21 wind turbines, with an overall blade tip height of up to 170 metres, and all associated site works at Cloncreen Bog near Clonbullogue.

The plan was approved by An Bord Pleanala on May 3 last for turbines to be located in Esker More, Clongarret, Cloncreen, Ballykilleen, Ballynakill, Ballinrath, Rathvilla or Rathclonbrackan, Ballina and Ballingar.

Thirty individuals and groups objected to the plan and one of those, Paul Kelly attached to Cloncreen Anti Wind Action Group, and who lives closest to the proposed wind energy farm, says the group’s only option now is to seek a judicial review.

“They got planning permission for 21 turbines that are 170m tall, the biggest in Ireland, and probably some of the biggest in Europe.The nearest turbine will be 800m from my backyard,” began Mr Kelly.

“There is a lot of anger and disgust among the community. We feel demoralised. If we try to appeal the decision we’ll be taking on the might of a semi-state body,” he explained.

“When the wind farm went for planning permission last October, there were 5,600 pages between environmental assesments and everything. For us as residents trying to go through all that detail in order to make a submission, when Bord na Mona probably had 200 people working on the plan...

“Our only option is a judicial review. I believe that costs in the region of €60,000.

“We are a small community. How are we supposed to find the likes of that,” he questioned.

"I bought my house 20 years ago. I live at the end of a boreen, I bought it for the peace and quiet. I never thought I'd have to worry about a 650ft tall turbine in my back garden," he continues.

"Thene there's the shadow flicker, the noise. At one of our meetings someone living close to a windfarm in Cork played up audio from his back garden at 3 o'clock in the morning. It sounded like someone was running a lawnmower around his house - I couldn't believe it.

"The truth is the Offaly landscape will be dominated by turbines in five years time. The two biggest problems facing rural Ireland right now is broadband and windfarms. In Dublin you wouldn't have that problem. Dublin doesn't have problems with broadband and you don't see them building windfarms there. They send it down the country where they don't have to worry about them.

"The guidelines are so outdated and it seems that ministers don't want to make a decision on them. We're not willing to accept this. Something needs to be done."

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