Communities can’t count on Government to support them over developers - Donegal TD

"They know that government will use An Bord Pleanála to make sure that applications will be granted”

Communities can’t count on Government to support them over developers - Donegal TD

Independent Donegal TD, Thomas Pringle

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said local communities cannot count on Government to support their interests over developers, in a Dáil debate following the recent bog slide at Meenbog.

The deputy also repeated his call to require developers to pay for independent environmental assessments as part of the planning process.

Raising the matter in the Dáil under Topical Issues on Thursday evening, Deputy Pringle said: “This is the culmination of a long planning history of this site where the development, I feel, has been pushed on against the wishes of the community.”

He said during the planning phase of the Meenbog Wind Farm, the local community were able to tell the developer that the ground conditions would make the site liable to slippage.

“They were ignored,” Deputy Pringle said.

The deputy said that in the recent bog slide, thousands of tons of peat slid into the river, “which will make its way to the Derg River and has probably killed thousands of salmon, ultimately compromising the Mourne and the Foyle river systems”.

He said: “This development was then taken out of the initial application and applied for again to the Bord and was granted. It was always felt that this was only a first step to achieving the whole development.

“This has inevitability led to the developer contacting the local community this week that he intends to submit an application in the coming months for the rest of the site.

“This is blatant project splitting and was not called out by any official organisation.” He said these issues have also been raised in other locations, including Derrybrien in County Galway and Drumkerrin in Leitrim.

“How many other sites will this apply to?”

He added: “Local communities cannot rely on Government to support them and their interests over the interests of developers. They know that government will use An Bord Pleanála to make sure that applications will be granted.”

“Even if planning permission promises to do x, y, and z to protect the environment, there is no effective control to ensure they actually do. When they get planning permission that’s the end of the process, and nobody looks at it from that point on. And that I believe is wrong, Minister.”

Deputy Pringle repeated his call to require developers to pay for independent environmental assessments as part of the planning process. Currently, developers commission their own assessments for their applications.

He said: “He who pays the piper calls the tune. The developer gets all the surveys done for this – he pays for them to be done.”

“The simple thing we could do, is we could say that the developer pays the council to do it, and the council could do the environmental studies, and then we might actually see real change in this process,” he said.

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