Irish Examiner

Council to get legal advice

- Christy Parker

The executive of Waterford City and County Council is to seek legal advice, after councillor­s voted by a large majority to alter a wind-energy strategy map on the county d e ve l o p m e n t p l a n , r e portedly to prevent a wind turbine developmen­t.

The townland of Knockanore in west Waterford is being targeted for a massive wind-farm proposal by German energy company, Innogy, through its subsidiary, Innogy Renewables Ireland Ltd.

Fianna Fáil councillor James Tobin, who lives in the locality, tabled an emergency motion at a council meeting to discuss the proposal. The councillor said he represente­d 800 people in his parish alone and his motion reflected their rejection of wind turbines in a locality noted for its natural beauty.

The energy company had submitted a pre-planning consultati­on request directly to Bord Pleanála, in regard to “the potential for developing a renewable energy project in the vicinity of Lyrenacarr­iga and surroundin­g areas”. The proposed plan is understood to include 25 turbines, 150 metres high, on 3, 500 acres of Coillte and privately owned land straddling the Waterford-Cork border.

Mr Tobin said the motion was cognisant that Waterford Council had been prevented from drawing up a county developmen­t plan in 2017, due to the 2014 city-andcounty amalgamati­on.

However. without a new developmen­t plan “until around 2022”, he feared it would be “too late” for the county.

Fianna Fáil councillor Tom Cronin, meanwhile, accused the Government of leaving Waterford “in limbo”, by preventing it from drawing up a developmen­t plan earlier. He said while people were denied one-off housing developmen­ts, due to landscape considerat­ions, “huge industrial turbines are considered ok.”

However, the council’s CEO, Michael Walsh, said the authority may have to seek legal advice. He said that as the motion “intended to prevent a developmen­t”, with potential consequenc­es, he would have to revert to legal advice authoritie­s.

He undertook to inform the councillor­s of any decision in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Labour councillor John Pratt said he was one of many councillor­s contacted by Innogy, through email, advising that in opposing the developmen­t, the council would be “setting a very dangerous precedent for the county”, which “could jeopardise future inward investment”.

The sole dissenter was metropolit­an-based Independen­t Joe Conway, who said wind energy helped reduce electricit­y costs and confidence should be placed in planning authoritie­s.

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