The decision by Laois councillors to seek a review and removal of wind designated areas in the county development plan has brought fresh hope to residents of Cullenagh, where Coillte have permission for an industrial windfarm.
Henry Fingleton, chairperson of People Over Wind, says they are pleased.
“It is great that the council recognise how bad for the county any of these wind developments will be. Now it is about trying to get national policy to catch up with reality,” he said.
He does not believe it will be a repeat of the Eirgrid debacle in 2012, when councillors amended the county development plan to order that electricity cables be placed underground.
Six months on, under the threat of legal action by Eirgrid, they removed the rule.
“There will be pressure from the minister, but this is not contravening central policy at the moment, they are simply opening it for discussion. They might find that one or two smallparts couold accept windfarms,” said Mr Fingleton, who said zoning Cullenagh mountain was “a huge mistake”.
“This sends out a strong message. This the fourth or fifth council to say wind strategy needs to be looked at,” he said.
In 2012 the wind zoning met with few objectors, while Coillte’s request to upgrade their Cullenagh lands from “open for consideration” to ‘preferred” was turned down by county manager Peter Carey.
As was a request by GED to upgrade Knockardagur and Ironmills from “preferred “ to “strategic”.
Mr Carey also noted in his report that the Slieve Bloom mountains were “the most optimum wind regime for commercial energy”, but were excluded because of their SPA, SAC status, heritage, and tourism potential.