Farcical scenes as Longford County Council agree 1000 per cent development charge hike on industrial wind turbines

Difference of opinion emerges within Fine Gael over planned increase as Fianna Faíl members initially abstain before ultimately voting on proposal

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Longford County Council headquarters

There were stormy scenes at a meeting of Longford County Council last night over calls to introduce large scale development charge increases on the construction of industrial wind turbines

Local politicians have given the go-ahead to impose a "phenomenal" 1000 per cent increase on the erection of industrial wind turbines in Co Longford.

Councillors approved the measure following a hotly debated notice of motion submitted by Independent Cllr Mark Casey.

The Lanesboro based representative had sought members backing to raise current development charges for industrial wind turbines from €7,190 to €70,000 per megawatt produced.

In attempting to explain his rationale for the large-scale increase, Cllr Casey said the changes would offset any losses from Longford's tourism sector which may be brought about by the development of Bord Na Mona's proposed Derryadd Windfarm.

"Wind farms aren't properly challenged yet and are not properly managed," he told last night's meeting.

"You only have to look at Sliabh Bán where people had to leave their homes because of noise issues."

Cllr Casey said there were simply "too many grey areas" at present concerning Bord Na Mona's plans to erect 28 wind turbines across Derryadd, Derryaroge and Lough Bannow boglands.

But it was the response to the former Cathaoirleach's motion from opposite sides of the council chamber which undoubtedly generated the most debate both during and after last night's meeting.

As Fianna Fáil group leader, Cllr Seamus Butler said he would be requesting his fellow party members to abstain from any vote, insisting the proposed 1000 per cent increase was simply not feasible.

That intervention appeared to unsettle those watching on in the Fine Gael benches when Cllr Butler's opposite number, Cllr Micheál Carrigy called for a ten minute adjournment.

When the meeting resumed a short time later, the party's recently nominated general election candidate said his party would be siding with Cllr Casey's motion.

"It is a position we stand by unlike other political parties," he said, in a direct swipe at his Fianna Fáil counterparts.

Those urgings were effectively nullified moments later when Cllr Paraic Brady, seconded by Cllr John Browne, performed a dramatic u-turn by calling for the current charges on industrial turbines to remain in place.

"What is going on here?" Cllr Mae Sexton muttered under her breath as the meeting descended into farce.

To add to the drama, Fianna Fáil members, despite the earlier comments made by Cllr Butler, ended up voting on Cllr Casey's proposal which was eventually carried by nine votes to five.

For more on this story, see next week's Longford Leader.