The Rossmore wind farm project is becalmed following its rejection by county councillors at their monthly meeting on Monday (November 27, 2003).
By 21 votes to three with one abstention (Cllr John Bonham), they went against official advice and refused to contravene the County Development Plan to facilitate Gaoithe Saor Teoranta’s proposed provision of the wind farm, consisting of six turbines, electrical sub-station, control building and 80m metrological mast, at Rossmore, Coorlaghan and Ardnateggle.
In the public gallery for the debate and vote were Rossmore Residents Group members led by their chairman, Andy Doogue, and secretary, Eileen Fitzgerald.
Cllr Mary Wheatley, seconded by Cllr Michael Rice, proposed that the County Development Plan should not be contravened.
Cllr Martin Rohan, seconded by Cllr Michael Turley, proposed that it should. Mayor Joe Digan supported them.
In a report before the meeting, council officials claimed that the wind farm would not be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, even though it was proposed to locate it in a zone of Special Development Control.
The farm, the report explained, would be between Killeshin and Bilboa villages, seven kilometres west of Carlow. The turbines and fully extended blades would reach a height of 115 metres.
Cllr Wheatley favoured wind farms, but “not here” in an area of Special Development Control. She pointed to what had happened in County Galway where a bog slid down a mountain on which a wind farm was being built.
Director of services Gerry Gibson said there was no corollary between Rossmore and what had happened in County Galway. It was Government policy to promote sustainable forms of energy, he stated. And, he pointed out, wind farms had to be located in certain areas in order to harness the wind. A fair bit of analysis went into the selection of locations, he added, and extensive work had gone into researching the Rossmore site.
Mayor Digan, advocating wind farms, urged councillors to think “long and hard” on the matter.
Cllr Wheatley thought the farm could interfere with wildlife, cause noise, and disrupt walking areas that the Slieve Margy Walking Club had developed. The issue of site suitability should have been dealt with now, and not just before the project commenced, as the officials suggested, she insisted.
Cllr Rice described Rossmore as a beautiful spot from which one could see six counties. And, he revealed, Rossmore/Killeshin had spent thousands of euros to make the area attractive to tourists.
Local people were strongly opposed to the wind farm, he maintained.