Windfarm decision appealed to An Bord Pleanála

With only 24 hours to go before the deadline, an appeal was lodged by hand at An Bord Pleanála’s offices on Marlborough Street, Dublin 1, regarding Westmeath County Council’s rejection of the planned windfarm in Gaybrook.

Galetech Energy Developments Ltd, the Cavan-based company who submitted the original plans, lodged the appeal on Wednesday October 6, the last day of the four-week permitted time allocation for appeals.The grounds for the company’s appeal are not yet known, but the council’s original decision in September was based on several factors, including the protection of the local landscape from “a visually dominant and obtrusive form”.

Local residents in the Gaybrook, Mahonstown, and Gibbonstown areas, in which the proposed wind turbines were to be located, were a driving force behind the objections made to the council, and they intend to keep up the pressure, despite this apparent setback.

Emily Wallace, a spokesperson from the lobby group Midlands Industrial Wind Turbine Action Group (MiWTAG ) believed such a move was expected, but that this would not be deterring them from continued action. MiWTAG are to hold a public meeting at the Bloomfield House Hotel, Mullingar on Monday October 18 at 8.30pm to brief residents on the latest developments.

Originally several hundred submissions were made by the public on the initial planning application, and further submissions direct to An Bord Pleanála can be made up until Tuesday November 2.

The council’s planning department turned down the application for the nine, 135-metre turbines because it felt such a development was “not consistent” with the Department of Environment’s 2006 wind energy guidelines for local authorities, and deemed its “ location, scale, height, siting, and separation distance from buildings... would give rise to a visually dominant and obtrusive form in an open and attractive rural area...and would result in serious injury to the visual amenities of the area”.

An Bord Pleanála is an independent state body that arbitrates planning disputes. The appeal costs €3,000, refundable if the Westmeath County Council decision is reversed. A final decision is expected in early 2011.

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