Laois County Councillors are to make a new effort to push the Government to set regulations on windfarm development, with the council's Cathaoirleach saying residents living beside land approved for turbines have been “left out to dry”.
The councillors have agreed to write to the new Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Denis Naughton, and request that he introduces regulations over the development of windfarms “as a matter of urgency”.
The motion was proposed at the May council meeting jointly, by Sinn Féin Cllrs Caroline Dwane Stanley and Aidan Mullins, and seconded by Fianna Fáil's Cllr Padraig Fleming.
“This is a very important issue. Guidelines are in place since 2006, but for much smaller windfarms, with a small setback. The last government promised a review, but three years on we are still no further on,” said Cllr Dwane Stanley.
She referred to Coillte's planned 18 turbine windfarm near Ballyroan, approved by An Bord Pleanála, which was originally rejected by Laois County Council's planning section.
“There are going to be huge turbines in Cullenagh, people in rural areas have the right to be protected.
“I ask that we write to Dep Naughton and ask for regulations. There are consequences for breaking regulations, guidelines can be breached,” she said.
Cllr Fleming agreed.
“We have debated this in chambers for a few years now, In Cullenagh there are 22 houses up a road where a windfarm will surround them. Laois County Council totally rejected this application but An Bord Pleanála approved it. The 500 metre setback needs to be doubled to 1,000,” said Cllr Fleming.
Ind Cllr James Kelly suggested putting a halt on any further developments until rules are put in place.
“We should look for a moratorium,” he said.
“In fairness to people living close to them, they have been left out to dry,” said the Cathaoirleach, Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald.