A number of landowners in Co Longford have been approached by Element Power with a view to installing wind turbines. A document shown to this publication also earmarks a number of sites suitable for the turbines both north and south of the county and at a number of locations closer to the county town’s envrions.
“Management of Element Power, the company behind the €8bn Greenwire wind energy export project, held a meeting recently with senior officials of Longford County Council to discuss the viability of certain lands in the county for wind energy,” a spokesperson for Element Power told the Leader.
“Since launching last July, the company has focused all attention on counties Kildare, Laois, Meath, Offaly and Westmeath, but given numerous expressions of interest in becoming involved in Greenwire, the company may now consider certain sites in Co Longford. However, at this stage, it is much too early to say whether any sites are suitable and might be included in the final list of potential wind farm locations or otherwise.”
During an IFA meeting to discuss the matter in Abbeyshrule last week, the organisation’s vice chairman Jer Bergin warned of a three-year timeframe before even the initial stages of the project came to fruitation. He also advised landowners about the advantages and disadvantages to installing turbines on property and pointed to the “community benefit” such installations could bring.
“Once you sign up, you are committed and there will be rental income,” Mr Bergin added. “The role of the IFA is to advise members who become envolved in wind turbines. There are planning guidelines in place and there have been problems with them in the past – in fact shadow flicker and noise seem to the main issues. IFA spoke to Pat Rabbitte three weeks ago to discuss these issues and we also pointed out that if this does go ahead, there should at the very least, a community benefit.”
Speaking to the Leader following the meeting, Deputy James Bannon (FG) said, “Element Power has looked at sites and deemed them to be suitable.
“There are benefits to the farmer and evidence to suggest that over 400 jobs could be created. A proper planning procedure has to take place because this is a major infrastructural development for Ireland.”
However, Deputy Willie Penrose is currently seeking a full moratorium on all future planning applications for wind farm developments, pending the finalisation of the planning guidelines pertaining to wind farms, which he says are currently being reviewed and updated, and will not be finalised until later this year.
“The 2006 guidelines are totally outdated and are adopted to situations where the average height of turbines were only 54 metres, which pales into insignificance when compared with some of the proposals to erect turbines about 184 metres high across the midlands,” the local TD said.
“Likewise, the 2006 guidelines are totally outdated in relation to noise levels and shadow flickering, and of course have a one size fits all approach in relation to setbacks. My own Bill deals comprehensively with all of those issues, and of course it has attracted the ire and deep disapproval of the Irish Wind Development Association.”