A section of the protesters who held a silent protest outside St Bridget's Hall, Leitirmacaward on Monday to show their opposition to a proposed 21 turbine wind farm proposal for their area
A silent protest opposing the development of a major wind farm in the Gweebarra area of West Donegal has this week signaled the next phase of what is turning into a battle between a tiny rural community and multinational corporations over the use of parts of the Wild Atlantic Way for commercial purposes.
Danish company Ørsted and FuturEnergy Ireland are jointly exploring the potential to develop a proposed 21-turbine wind farm near the Clogherachullion and Cloghercor areas near the Gweebarra estuary.
The Gweebarra Conservation Group feels this is a totally inappropriate location for the multimillion project and feels special areas of conservation, areas of geological interest, and some of the county's most scenic areas are under threat.
Members held a silent protest at St Bridget's Hall, Leitirmacaward on Monday to show their opposition to the plans.
"Five thousand, two hundred and sixty-six people have already signed our petition opposing industrial wind turbines on our Natura 2000 Gweebarra River SAC and no one we canvased locally in recent weeks was in favour of industrialising our small farming community," said a spokesperson.
"We will keep an eye on these proposals and will be investigating all aspects of this proposed development as it threatens our very way of life here in West Donegal."
The proposed development has changed in recent times from a 23 turbine development to a 21 but according to a spokesperson for the Cloghercor Wind Farm project team their new design was based on feedback from initial environmental and ecological assessments.
"The second design iteration represents a drop in turbine numbers from 23 to 21. The revised design has also made numerous changes to turbine placement which has reduced the size of the development site."
She also explained what happened at the consultation event in Leitirmacaward on Monday when visitors noted that maps and photo montages from Co Tyrone and not Donegal.
"Due to a technical error on the part of the website providers for the virtual village hall, an incorrect document was uploaded for one of the ten viewpoints that we had on display. The issue was fixed immediately after it was identified, within a few hours of the virtual village hall going live.
"We regret any confusion that this erroneous document has caused but having taken swift action to remedy it we would encourage anybody with an interest in the Cloghercor Wind Farm proposal to visit the virtual village hall to access detailed information, maps, and photomontages on the revised plans."
Asked about the next steps for the proposed development and about claims that some protesters claimed that residents on one side of the Gweebarra have been ignored and no one has called them or dropped any literature with them, the spokeswoman denied this was the case.
"Prior to this week's exhibition event, every household within a 2km radius of the project site was visited by the Cloghercor Wind Farm project’s two dedicated local Community Liaison Officers who delivered the latest information newsletter and invited them to meet with the project team. Advertisements were also placed in the Donegal Democrat, on Donegal Live, in the local church newsletter, and on our website."
She also outlined what the next step involved.
"After this week's exhibition and meetings in the community, we will continue to invite feedback from the local community on the revised proposal via the virtual village hall and one-to-one meetings between our project team, residents, and any other interested parties.
"Further to this feedback, and the findings of our ongoing environmental studies on the site, the wind farm design and layout will be finalised, with a final community consultation undertaken before the planning application is prepared.
"We were pleased with the attendance levels and had many constructive conversations with members of the local community.
"The updated design proposal is also available to view at the project website, www.cloghercorwindfarm.com, and our project team is looking forward to hearing further feedback on our proposed plans.
By continuing to work closely with the community and wider consultees, we aim to develop a proposal for submission to An Bord Pleanála later this year, which will seek to be sensitive to the surrounding environment, and protect the natural features of the site and deliver significant local economic benefits.
“With the Government recently scaling up its targets for renewable energy generation, we hope that the proposed Cloghercor Wind Farm can play a significant role in achieving this ambition whilst also contributing to the Government’s plan to halve carbon emissions by the end of this decade," she added.
It is anticipated that the planning application will be submitted in winter 2022.
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