Far too many questions remain to be answered over a proposal to develop a large-scale windfarm in the Costelloe area and until they are answered further proceedings must cease.
This is the view of Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh who is concerned by plans to construct a windfarm in Leitir Mucú and Doire an Fhéich in Costelloe. Gaoi an Iarthar Teo is seeking planning permission to build a 13 turbines, 135m high, in the townlands.
Sen Ó Clochartaigh said that while he is in favour of green energy, he has concerns over the planning process, employment aspects, the height of the turbines, the noise they will generate, and the location of the turbines to residents’ homes.
“Any development should only go ahead if it has the backing of the whole community, and in this case, it does not have the community’s full backing,” he said.
A local community action group has been set up to scrutinise the plans of the windfarm and the company behind the proposal.
“We don’t know who Gaoi an Iarthar Teo are, we don’t know who their directors are, and if you search them on the internet, there isn’t even a website for Gaoi an Iarthar Teo,” said Maryann Uí Chadhain, a local resident. “Also, such a large scale windfarm development will drastically alter and damage the landscape that is a trademark for Connemara.”
According to Sen Ó Clochartaigh, Gaoi an Iarthar Teo is offering a community fund totalling more than €1.1 million over a 20 year period to 12 organisations within a 10 mile radius of the proposed wind farm pending planning approval.
“Is this the price for the beauty and scenic views of Leitir Mucú and Doire an Fhéich?” he asked. “I would prefer if these promises were left out of the equation until the planning process is over. I would prefer if people were in favour or against this project based only on the value of this project.”
He added that the area in question has been designated by the Galway County Council in its Wind Energy Strategy as a “location in principle” suitable for wind farms.
“However, one single large turbine will alter the natural landscape. Moreover the cumulative effect of a large wind farm such as this will drastically transform and damage the landscape,” he said.
Sen Ó Clochartaigh believes such a large scale construction as the proposed windfarm would change the local environment, alter the local ecosystems, and displace wildlife in the area. In addition, local vegetation will be removed and permanently damaged.
“It would be better at this stage if this company stopped any further proceedings with the application,” he said, “until the project is discussed at length and that it has the public’s full approval.”