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Planning Board's Decision will destroy Donegal's cultural traditions!

category donegal | environment | press release author Sunday February 20, 2011 19:41author by Gweebarra Conservation Group - Gweebarra Conservation Groupauthor email gweebarraconservation at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

In spite of numerous objections the Planning Board has granted permission for 13 industrial wind turbines in ten townlands outside Glenties in South West Donegal

The Gweebarra Conservation Group has described as 'very disappointing' the decision by An Bord Pleanala to grant Permission for 13 industrial turbines in ten townlands outside Glenties.

No-one would sanction felling trees in the rain forest to erect wind turbines yet this is precisely what the current government is doing by giving tax incentives to private investors to destroy our hills and bogs.The bog lands in these Gaeltacht townlands (Graffy, Meenagrubby, Meenaleenaghan, Meenchuit, Dalraghan More, Meenamanragh, Meenavale, Grennans, Stralinchy and Mully) are just as important as the rain forests in absorbing C02. These are precious habitats which support a large variety of protected species, as well as the Irish-speaking families who have lived in this beautiful valley for generations.

Wind energy is not sustainable when turbines are erected on bog land because more C02 is released into the atmosphere than the turbines would ever offset in hundreds of years. It is the 'Con with the Wind' and local politicians, council officials, the Planning Board and the Dept. of Energy & Natural Resources are colluding with developers to the detriment of the local community.

Just as the Government has given away the oil and gas off our coast they are now prepared to industrialize rural Donegal so that private investors can profit.

This decision signals the death of the Gaelic cultural traditions in this area which is famed world wide for its fiddling tradition.
People will be forced to move away to avoid the health dangers of living within 2-4km of the turbines which emit low frequency noise, undetectable to the human ear, but which disturb human and animal sleep patterns, cause sore ears and affect the vascular and nervous systems.Together these symptoms are called 'wind turbine syndrome'.

In addition there are health dangers associated with the high voltage power lines which are needed to take power away from wind farms. These power lines are proven to increase cancer rates if located within 2km of peoples' homes.
Donegal County Council and An Bord Pleanala are going against best international practice by allowing industrial turbines and high voltage power lines to be located within 500m of people's homes. Developers are getting tax incentives to build these wind farms but there is no compensation for the local community who stand to loose so much.

The Planning permission states that these sites will be restored in 25 years time but it is just ridiculous to suggest that after excavating hundreds of thousands of tonnes of peat from our glens and hills and replacing the peat with concrete that this process can be reversed. The damage is done when the wind farm is erected and the land cannot be restored.

Our tourism industry will be destroyed as no-one will come to a county festooned with turbines on every hill.

The Board states the fact that the ESB /Eirgrid got planning permission for a 110kv high voltage power line as one of the reasons for granting permission to the wind farm, even though work on the high voltage power line has not begun. Donegal people now expect planning applications all along the route of the high voltage power line which dissects the Donegal Gaeltacht.

Why should the wind investors profit at the expense of the local community whose health is endangered and whose property is devalued by up to 80% within view of a wind farm?

The Australian Senate has called for an international public inquiry on the subject of wind farms while the Ontario government has stopped all offshore wind farm developments until more research is conducted into their safety yet Donegal planners are ignoring all the latest research and granting planning permission to 70% of all wind farm applications in the County.

The land is all we have in Donegal and it cannot be replaced. It inspires our language, our music, our songs and numerous artists. If the land is allowed to be destroyed then all of our cultural traditions will die with it.

The main political parties support wind energy in spite of the implications for our peat lands, our culture and and our fledgling tourism industry.

People must let the politicians know that we will not be forced off the land so that private investors can profit at our expense. We have already seen what these developers have done to our economy and they cannot be allowed to destroy our countryside and our culture too.

Related Link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gweebarra-Conservation-Group/109990765695673
author by Techie.publication date Mon Feb 21, 2011 22:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

But sure didn't Don Quixote blame Windmills for destroying the Spanish land of La Mancha.
To paraphase Cervantes' wonderful sarcastic comedy from many centuries ago:

Don Quixote:
"Onward Rosinane (to his horse) this revolving machine is a demon."

His servant Sancho Panza said:
"It is only a windmill Don."

Don Quixote attacked the windmill head on.
The windmill won the battle.
Poor Don Quixote.

Nice image of Don Quixote attacking the windmill here:

http://www.fulltable.com/vts/d/dq/im/35.jpg

Cervantes gave the word "quixotic" to the languages of the world.

author by Del Boypublication date Mon Feb 21, 2011 20:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors


An interesting, unattributed, article appeared in last weeks Connacht ‘City Tribune’, 18th Feb, which, indicated that CIE are to fund a ‘scoping study’ looking into the preferred location of Galways long awaited - multi purpose Concert/Conference Hall and possible School of Music venue: which is to be sited, we are being told, between Ceannt Station and Galway Docks.
This reminded me of a submission made 13 years ago, wherein I had suggested that Galway could have its own smaller version of Sydneys iconic Opera House at Richardsons bend, where the Ce na Mara apartments are now built (copy attached).
However, with these development issues now being complicated by the worst economic crisis ever experienced in a developed country, where many livelihoods have been ruined, and significant emigration is taking away many of our most gifted citizens: the likelihood of such an ambitious scheme going ahead is slim indeed.

People are currently being seduced into believing that it will be possible to relocate our now ‘non-commercial’ Port out into Galway Bay, while at the same time we create a new Ocean Leisure Quarter around the existing docks.

As Fintan O’Toole in his book ‘Enough is Enough’ said, “Typically, large scale public or private projects come with a veneer of consultation whose only aim is to persuade the community to accept what has already been decided by those who know better!” (Fintan O’Toole, 2010 Faber & Faber).

I believe that this project will go the way of the Dublin Port Company’s plans to fill in 21 hectares of Dublin Bay did, along with Corks similar plan to move its port down river. Both projects were tripped up by An Bord Pleanala for good environmental and sustainable planning considerations, which would be similar to the many concerns people have expressed here in Galway.

After all that. Not least of Galway’s problems, is, that the Dept of Environment, Heritage & Local Government, in August 2007, have determined that before SDZ (Strategic Development Zoning) could be given to the 9.7 hectare site surrounding the existing docks, that the Department of Transport “would require the sanction of their Department and that they have requested the preparation of a business plan for the future of the port.” Letter to Mr Joe McGrath from DoE’s Spatial Policy Section.

It would seem logical to me, as it would to any member of the public, that, any planning application lodged prior to the preparation by Galway City Council of a Local Area Plan, would be considered premature and would lead to a refusal by ABP.
More recently, July 2009, in a letter to An Taisce, the Principle of DoE’s Planning System and Spatial Policy Section, explained that “From a proper planning and sustainable development perspective, there are a number of issues which would need to be considered and addressed in advance of possible SDZ designation. This Department feels that a Local Area Plan for the wider harbour/docks/south city centre area should be prepared which would set out the broad context for development e.g. vision, uses, design standards and links with other city centre developments. The Galway Transport Planning Study (GTPS) would require to be updated.” Principle of DoE’s Planning System and Spatial Policy, Mr Dave Walsh.

This point has been made many times by me to officials at Strategic Policy Committee meetings, where I represent the Galway City Community Forum. Only to be told that any planning application coming from CIE, or, Galway Harbour Company, would be treated as any normal planning application coming from a “private” developer would be.

The fact is, that the Harbour extension will be determined under ‘Strategic Infrastructure’ regulations now takes it out of the hands of Galway City planners.

Finally: When making their response to Minister Dermot Ahearns High Level Review of State Commercial Ports 2003, Galway Harbour Company agreed to section 6, which stated “The onus to fulfil a function as a trading port should be removed from certain ports. Allowing dormant ports to exit from the ports sector would increase the port estate available for development. Port Policy needs to outline a concise and workable exit strategy for ports where this is appropriate.

Galway Harbour Company response – agreed. Non Trading ports should be transferred to the Local Authorities for urban renewal type development.

My conclusion is, that given the current nature of Galway Harbours reducing business managing its property portfolio, and, collecting parking fees. With minimal maritime trade in the form of oil/bitumen imports. Is, that the sooner the turnover of its estate to Galway City Council ocurrs, the better.

This would allow for the creation of a fully written up Local Area Plan, as is required by the Dept of Environment, Heritage & Local Government, as detailed above, which would include provision of sites adjacent to Ceannt Station and Galway Harbour for public open spaces cultural, commercial and residential elements alongside a newly established Regional Water Sports Centre.

Del Boy
Galway. 20th Feb, 2011.

 
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