Last week the Glenties Wind Farm Information Group welcomed An Bord Pleanala’s decision to refuse permission for a 25 turbine wind farm at Straboy, Glenties, Co. Donegal. The group described the decision as “a victory for common sense, and a vindication of the community’s stand in opposing this application”. The report followed an in-
Mr Moore comments on the ecological qualities of the site, and its importance as a link along the chain of designated conservation sites in the area. The hazard risk associated with peat slippage, and the potential for contamination of water quality, and in particular the significant risk posed to the Freshwater Pearl Mussel in the Owenea River, are cited as the main grounds for refusing the application. Mr. Moore concluded that the complexities and extent of innovation involved in the applicant’s proposed mitigation measures to address these concerns, and the interdependence and inter relationship between these, did not give confidence that they were of long term viability. Therefore they could not be relied on. The development as proposed represented a serious and significant risk to local residents through the danger of peat slippage and the proposals for the storage of significant volumes of excavated peat in unsuitable locations. This risk was clearly established in the evidence of Dr. Bragg and Professor Johnston, speaking on behalf of Glenties Windfarm Information Group. He was also critical of the applicant’s failure to provide a base line noise survey before the commencement of the hearing. In his conclusion he stated he was not satisfied with the adequacy of the applicant’s noise assessment which ultimately was going to affect the many households who live in the exceptionally quiet rural hinterland.
The Inspector’s Report is available at the following links
Straboy ABP Inspector's Report .
We extrapolate, directly, some of his findings below, under various headings. They provide a fascinating insight into the value the Inspector laid upon our homes, our Donegal landscape, our heritage, our fauna and flora. As such, perhaps the Inspector’s report is an insight into the huge threat faced by Donegal as our planners seem intent on a headlong dash to embrace wind energy, often in hugely inappropriate sites like Straboy. We should indeed take heed.
Property Devaluation (p147)
“It is my submission to the Board that the residents of rural housing in the immediate
vicinity of the proposed wind farm site enjoy a wide range of amenities that evidently
contribute to residential property values in this area. Houses are sited in the vicinity of areas of high natural and scenic value. They enjoy a relatively quiet rural environment and are not exposed to any significant industrial or non-
" the conclusions on the resulting adverse impact this development would have on the valuable tourism industry in this area derived from the area’s natural amenities should not be underestimated. Tourism is perhaps the area’s most important industry. It has many facets in Glenties but all of it centres on the natural qualities of the landscape and the visual qualities of this natural landscape. Seriously detracting from the landscape and visual qualities of this area results in the tourism product being seriously eroded. This development would have a tangible impact on the area’s tourism product, i.e. its distinguished ridgelines that define the natural setting of the town and the edging of the natural wilderness just beyond this urban centre."
Noise and Health (p157)
"The extent of confusion, lack of clarity, conflict of epidemiological studies, and, most importantly, lack of appropriate guidance on the assessment of public health impact makes the Board’s task of adequately assessing the issue of public health impact improbable. However, it is reasonable to conclude that those particularly sensitive to noise in the quiet rural noise environment of Straboy and its environs would likely experience disturbance by the proposed wind turbines and the response to this disturbance could potentially affect the health of these receptors"
Cultural heritage and language (p141+)
"There can be no doubt that the landscape in this area has influenced the cultural richness of Glenties and its environs, reflected in the many writings, storytelling, traditional music and art deriving from the area. The Irish language is fully immersed in this heritage, an integral part of it, and the cultural expression of this heritage is best reflected through the traditional first language of the area. This link between landscape, art and the language, which produces the richness of this area’s cultural heritage, is often a forgotten or, indeed, misunderstood consideration because its tangibility is hard to define and impact hard to express... More often than not, impact on heritage focuses solely on the physical, namely archaeology and architectural heritage. This, in my opinion, fails to address, in this case, the true reflection of what can be termed impact on ‘cultural heritage’....In the context of the development now before the Board, it is my submission that it is short-
Ecology, flora & fauna (p95+)
“The appeal site contains substantial habitats of international importance, a wide range of fauna of international importance are resident, and flora and other fauna of international importance are potentially resident on this site. It can, thus, reasonably be determined that the site is of significant conservation value in itself. It is further determined that the appeal site forms an important link in the chain of designated conservation sites in the environs of Glenties and is an important ‘stepping stone’ site for migrant species. It is concluded that the proposed wind farm development poses a significant risk to internationally important habitats and would result in permanent loss, destruction and fragmentation of such habitats....
It is noted that there is a pair of territorial eagles in the area.... I would suggest that the applicant effectively seeks to devalue the site as an important habitat for Golden Eagle and, indeed, to curb the evident importance of the site for Red Grouse and Irish Hare....In addressing concerns relating to this Red listed bird species, I must firstly make the point to the Board that Red Grouse are a common occurrence on the appeal site at Straboy. They have been frequently sighted and flushed. I note again also that there was no proper breeding bird survey done for the site.... the applicant’s intention is overtly to downgrade the habitat status of this site, notably for Red Grouse and potential usage by Golden Eagle....
It is even more extraordinary that there was no assessment of the impact on Cró na mBraonáin (Red Grouse Sanctuary) given its proximity to the appeal site and the significant potential connectivity between the sites. The value of the Cró na mBraonáin sanctuary cannot be understated. I note importantly for the Board that its value is acknowledged in the current Donegal County Development Plan wherein there is a specific policy (NH-
Mr O Donnell points out that the above examples illustrate the extensive grounds for refusal that are clearly documented in the Inspector’s report. The Oral Hearing came at a considerable cost to the Glenties community in acquiring the expertise of a range of experts to substantiate their concerns. That followed on from the failure and neglect of Donegal County Council to consider the views expressed by the community on the application when it was first made, and their total failure to adequately assess the application and the risks associated with this development to the local community and environment.
“We hope that in future this degree of neglect will not be repeated, and we are calling now on Donegal Co. Council to de-
Council decide on variation to CDP
At a special meeting of Donegal County Council on June 30th 2014, County Councillors
adopted a variation to the County Development Plan which will see new
conditions imposed on wind farm developments.
Wind Energy Workshop 20th January 2014
As you are aware there is a workshop on wind energy due to take place on 20th January 2014. This is in response to an ongoing motion that is before the council on a variation to the wind energy section of the County Development Plan 2012-
Explanation to DCC on FWPM
Requirement for Protection of Sub Basin Districts.
The European Community Environmental Objectives, Freshwater Pearl Mussel Regulations 2009.
These regulations compliment and support the Environmental Objectives, Surface Water Regulations 2009.
The Regulations were introduced in response to a decision of the European Court of Justice against Ireland and are specifically intended to support the achievement of favourable conservation status for the Freshwater Pearl Mussel.
GWIG response, in support of Cllr. John Campbell's motion to council
This document is in support of Councillor John Campbell’s motion to vary elements of the wind energy section of the County Development Plan 2012-
21st November 2013
Dear Mr. Duggan,
We make this submission in response to Public Consultation, Stage 1 on the Renewable Energy Export Policy and Development Framework.
As this Stage is to set out the Framework for a scoping document in accordance with the undertaking of a Strategic Environmental Assessment as provided for under Directive 2001/42/ EC, we wish to make the following points.
GWIG goes to Europe
A NUMBER of groups representing wind farm campaigners in Donegal and the Midlands held a lengthy and positive meeting with senior officials at the Irish Desk in the Environment Directorate of the European Commission, yesterday, November 4.
Response to Peter Crossan's presentation
After the Chairman’s introduction and Peter Crossan’s delivery of the presentation questions from the floor included the following points:
A passionate Seamus O’Domnhaill praised GWiG for presenting a “learned opinion” having had to endure spending tens of thousands to protect the civil liberties of their community. He questioned the impact of the massive rollout of turbines on the Donegal landscape with respect to a nominal benefit to the local economy ........
Proposal For Variation On The Donegal County Development Plan
Monday 21 October 2013
Presentation to Councillors of Donegal,
County House, Lifford.
Presentation given by Peter Crossan,
Planning and Research Solutions,
on behalf of Glenties Wind Farm Information Group.