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29/07/2021

Community fear intimidation is rife in the hills of Donegal

Locals urged public to object to new wind farm

Community fear intimidation is rife in the hills of Donegal

Environmental vandalism? Some of the graffiti on the road near the proposed wind farm site

Intimidation and fears that profit-driven motives will overshadow concerns expressed about the proposed development of a wind farm outside Glenties, have residents up in arms.

A company called Cuilfeach Teoranta is applying for a ten-year planning permission for this latest development.

It would include eight turbines with a maximum hub height of 84 metres, a maximum blade diameter of 132m and a maximum blade tip height of 150m in the townlands of Graffy, Meenamanragh and Dalraghan More.

Many people living in the area dubbed Donegal’s last great wilderness, say pro-wind farm graffiti on the roads around the proposed site have left them feeling anxious and afraid to speak out about their concerns

Yellow luminous paint has been daubed on the county roads with the words ‘Yes Turbines Here’ and ‘The More The Better’ accompanied by an emoji of a smiling face that is often associated with the rave culture.

“This environmental vandalism is something we are not used to dealing with. We are already under pressure trying to save our beautiful countryside. We don’t need this sort of intimidation," said one resident who wished to remain anonymous.

They are also angry and worried over the imposition of what they see as a massive industrial complex in an entirely rural, upland and bogland area. The site is predominantly to the rear of Achla mountain, in the shadow of the Bluestacks and the Croaghs in the heart of the Gaeltacht Láir.

Locals are pleading with local councillors to speak up on their behalf. There is a long promised review of the County Development Plan (CDP) wind energy policy.
Concerns were expressed at Tuesday's Glenties Municipal District meeting.

Cathaoirleach, Cllr Marie Therese Gallagher said a wind farm policy was badly needed.

“This isn't fair on the people, it is not fair on anybody and it is just unacceptable that we have had a county development plan that we are asking planners to make decisions on without having a policy."

Cllr Micheál Choilm Mac Giolla Easbuig said no one had any interest in the mountains when people were living there in poverty but now when companies could see profits they wanted to get involved

“This is about profit and not about community and councillors should go against it. We should stand with the people from Fintown and surrounding areas,” he said
Cllr Anthony Molloy also called on the municipal district to unanimously oppose any such developments.

Planning officer Sinead McClafferty said that while she couldn't comment on particular cases, her understanding was cases could be refused by the council and appealed to An Bord Pleánála by the applicant.

A spokesperson for the Graffy Environmental Group (GEG) point to the locally high rainfall in the mountains between Glenties and Fintown as being a common sense reason that this upland area is clearly unsuitable for a windfarm.

However, the say, as all the documentation accompanying this application is developer driven, written by their own consultants, this is not clearly stated in their Natura Impact Statement.

The GEG point to rainfall figures in the hydrology section of the NIS which clearly show a 2018 figure for Fintown of 1,934mm as against the often quoted and relied on figure for Malin Head met station of 1,076mm.

Their spokesperson added that while expert reports are awaited it is commonly acknowledged that the Meenbog bog burst occurred following not uncommon rainfall on a wind farm construction site.

"Graffy and Fintown rainfall figures at almost a factor of two greater than Malin Head are without contradiction perhaps the highest in the county if not the country.

"Other bewildering statistics revealed in the wind farm application are that 4.8km of new access roads will be required to get to turbine sites where many thousands of tonnes of concrete will be poured and the underground access route for the grid connection will extend 7.5km.

“It is proposed that much of this will be buried in the centre of the Wee Glen Stracashel road. Locals are fearful that the level of associated works point to this not being a standalone wind farm of eight turbines.”

The spokesperson added they enjoyed a very successful two-day public information session in Glenties last week and were heartened by the huge level of support they received.
GEC said it again wanted to highlight the fact they were only given a short period of time to lodge an objection to what was a very complex and copy-heavy application.

They suggested people seek out the file on the council's website which was 21/51202 and examine the proposals for themselves:http://www. donegalcdb.ie/eplan/ internetenquiry/rpt_ ViewApplicDetails.asp? validFileNum=1&app_num _file=2151202

They asked that people be reminded the deadline for objecting to the proposal is Tuesday next, July 20 at 4pm either by e-mail or in writing

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