Councillor critical over planning for wind farms

A COUNTY councillor has questioned why a wind farm is unlikely to be granted planning permission in an area where a number of telecommunications masts have been erected.

A COUNTY councillor has questioned why a wind farm is unlikely to be granted planning permission in an area where a number of telecommunications masts have been erected.

Planning permission has been granted by Kilkenny County Council for masts on Croghan Hill, which is in Coppenagh townland, but not on Coppenagh Hill. There are no permissions for masts on Coppenagh Hill.

A group of farmers met with planning officials regarding a proposed wind farm at nearby Frenagh Hill and were told that it was ‘highly unlikely’ that any such application would be successful.

Fianna Fail councillor, Sean Treacy who is not involved in the planned development said that he supported the proposed wind farm in the area. “The turbines are planned to be on the Gowran side of the hill which is ideal for wind development. We would have to protect the Graignamanagh side from a tourism point of view,” he said.

The councillor also pointed out that it was an alternative form of income for farmers in the area. “The land in question is poor farmland. I would be suppportive of anything that improves farn incomes. The wind strategy as it is too restrictive and the new strategy (which is currently being devised) will have to take into account the tough economic times and not be so restrictive. There are barrier distances around certain sites which wind turbines are not permitted and these distances should be reduced. We should take a look at them and reduce them and see on a site by site basis at a time when a lot of people are considering wind development,” he added.

Senior planning engineer Mr Denis Malone pointed out that a different set of criteria applied for the turbines and wind masts. “A diiferent set of criteria apply. One could question why the local authority would allow the masts and not the turbines. The history of masts in the are goes back to pre 1991 and the thinking around that location has changed over 20 years.

“In the case of the the masts the visual impact is much less (than that of the planned turbines). They are between 35 and 40 metres in height and are located within commercial woodlands where the trees are 15-20 metres in height and provide a certain amount of screening. The turbines would be 100 metres which is over twice the size.

“If there was a similar application for a mast before the council today there is no guarantee that it would get planning permission,” he said adding that the policy for telecommunication masts were now granted on a five-year temporary basis, after which time they were re assessed.