Here is a copy of my objection submitted to Kildare County Council with regards to the proposed wind farm development at Eadestown, Co. Kildare.
29th July 2014
Dear Sir / Madam
Objection to planning application 14 / 514
I would like to record my objection to the proposed development at Athgarrett, Eadestown as per above reference number. Please note I have submitted a separate, supporting letter to endorse the submission of the lobby group “Eadestown Against Spin” on this application also and that is distinct from this objection.
Application premature pending full guidelines
My principal difficulty with the current application is that it is premature and comes at a time when various relevant planning guidelines are currently in a state of flux and acknowledged to be in need of updating.
Kildare County Council is currently working towards a set of guidelines for wind energy projects as per the council energy committee; similarly at national level a public consultation has been under way since the Minister responsible launched a consultation exercise under s.28 of the Planning Acts in December 2013.
These guidelines will have an immediate and direct bearing on the consideration of planning applications such as the instant one and it would appear premature and poor practice to allow a project proceed which will involve permanent and long-lived structures, whilst cognisant of the fact that updated guidelines governing the planning, construction and operation of same are mere months away from publication.
Indeed my own motion at council seeking a moratorium on such applications until county guidelines were completed, agreed and adopted is still a ‘live’ item and a recurring item at energy sub-committee meetings.
Whilst serious and significant concerns regarding setback distance, shadow flicker, noise levels, end-of-life disposal and many other questions remain open it would seem irresponsible to grant planning regardless.
East Kildare Uplands
Kildare is a flat county. Elevated terrain is in short supply and the landscape, views and character of the east Kildare uplands are an asset to be treasured. Views from the red bog, Cromwellstown, Slieverua and similar areas, all in proximity to the proposed site, form a natural heritage which should be preserved. The siting of two or more industrial turbines in this area would diminish greatly from this rich landscape and vista.
It is understood that the red bog is a candidate for European SAC (special area of conservation) status. It is understood that there is also an amenity and conservation area at Glending rath and a sister rath on Athgarrett hill itself. The adjacent area of Burgage Mór, Blessington has been classified as a tourism development area and recently formed the backdrop to filming for the TV series “The Vikings”.
The growth in wind turbine interest in Ireland has been driven in the main by the international agreement with the UK to supply energy via the inter-connector and help satisfy UK compliance with renewable energy. Since the EU significant revised their target dates (by a factor of years) and the UK agreement has been resiled from, there is no apparent demand or urgency to any current applications. Put plainly it is not clear what market the purported energy generated is expected to serve. It is also questionable whether wind speeds at the site can support sustainable generation or whether ancillary sources would be required also.
Local roads approaching Athgarrett are not capable of supporting the transportation of equipment, machinery and particularly the turbine towers themselves, without significant recalibration. It is understood that a project to pipe the generated power underground as far as Blessington is also proposed which again would raise significant concerns, disruption and disquiet within the local community and all along the route.
Lack of consultation
Best practice in these projects would advocate full and frank local consultation and in an adequate time-frame. Whilst a public consultation was held the event was almost immediately prior to the planning submission and elements of community gain suggested were tokenistic and lacked any partnership aspect.
For the reasons above I wish to record my formal objection to the planning application 14 / 514.
My contact details are below in the event of any queries.
Cllr. James Lawless