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Environment

Taxpayer may have to foot €70m windfarm fine bill

THE early decommissioning of an ESB wind farm in South Galway could result in an overall taxpayer bill of up to €70 million, a local lobby group has claimed. Following a lump sum fine of €5 million and a daily fine of €15,000 plus legal costs imposed by the European Court of Justice ruling in November 2019, the Derrybrien Wind Farm has now incurred a bill of €17,845,7779 for the state. The penalties were levied after it found Ireland had failed to comply with a previous court ruling in relation to the wind farm where a landslide occurred during construction in 2003. David Murray from the South Galway Flood Relief Committee estimates when fines, early decommissioning accounting for a €10 million loss annually over the life time of the wind farm, consultants fees and resolution of turbary right are factored in, the final bill and loss of earnings could be in the region of €70 million. The ESB, through its …

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Storm brews as zoning of Clare windfarm questioned

MORE than 1,000 residents in Cratloe, Bunratty, Ardnacrusha and Meelick will be forced to live in the shadow of “overpowering wind turbines” up to 1,600 feet above sea level if wind developments proceed on picturesque Clare Hills. That’s according to Gerry Ryan, who is very concerned over the planning designation of an area stretching from Cratloe on the western slopes of Gallows Hill across to Ardnacrusha in the East, as suitable for “strategic large scale wind turbines.” For countless generations, Mr Ryan said Clare people have enjoyed the beautiful views of Gallows Hill, Woodcock Hill and Ballycar Hill from Bunratty, Sixmilebridge, Ardnacrusha, Shannon to name but a few areas. “This beautiful backdrop is now under threat and the views from iconic attractions such as Bunratty Castle, Cratloe Woods, 12 O Clock Hills and countless other areas of Clare will be destroyed forever by the construction of 178 metre high wind turbines. “A conservative count of the homes either within the …

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‘Nature will flourish when we cease harmful interventions’

In her new series on the environment, Bridget Ginnity speaks to ordinary Clare people who have been moved to make changes in their life in response to the climate change crisis that looms ever larger. First up is Colette Reddington, former science teacher in Coláiste Muire Ennis and co-founder of Clare Haven and Haven Horizons BACK in the ‘90s, there was suddenly a huge amount of algal blooms in the Clare lakes – it smelled like boiled cabbage water. I remember a dog died drinking the water from Lough Derg. Some time later, Cullaun Lake had a fish kill of 20,000 fish. Looking back, that was the first time that I really started to think about how we unintentionally damage our environment. I was impressed that local landowners, Teagasc and angling groups got together and within two years had resolved the problem. It encouraged me to see that while we do damage, we can also reverse it by changing our …

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Developers claim data centre could heat more than 1,000 homes

OVER 1,100 homes could benefit from high grade heat generated as part of the planned €1.2 billion data centre campus in Ennis. It has been proposed to allow for homes or businesses to connect and make use of this heat within a 5km radius of the data centre site, a response to further information on the plans confirms. A decision on the controversial plan is due to be made in the coming weeks. Art Data Centres Ltd submitted a response to a further information request on the plans to Clare County Council. The developers’ response also contends an existing flood risk “will not be impacted” by the installation of a proposed new watermain as part of the plans. In its further information request the planning authority noted that excess heat from the proposal “may provide an opportunity for the provision of a district heating system” for the local area. A statement on whether full and comprehensive consideration has been given …

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Fears that housing construction work causing flooding

FLOODING concerns have been raised in Tulla by several residents close to the site of a new social housing development. Michael O’Callaghan is among a number of people who contacted The Champion on the issue. He farms 38 acres of land beside the Council’s site and said that since the end of last year, up to 20 acres have been subject to unprecedented flooding. That is despite the fact that rainfall levels have been low. He said that local knowledge suggests that culverts which normally drain the lands close the to the site have been blocked, possibly during excavation works on the Council’s site. “Water from the farm flows underground, beneath the social housing site,” he said. “It’s the view locally, based on our knowledge of the area, that culverts have been blocked. The natural flow of water from the land is not continuing in the way that it used to.” Mr O’Callaghan said the flooding situation worsened towards the …

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Alarm at rise in Clare deer population

URGENT action to control the deer population, which is said to have “exploded” in areas like East Clare, is being sought, writes Fiona McGarry. Two farming organisations have appealed to the Department of Agriculture to reinstate a national forum to manage the population, as concerns intensify about links between bovine TB and uncontrolled numbers of certain deer species. The Deputy President of ICMSA has told the joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture that the presence and prevalence of Bovine TB after “70 years and counting” of continuous TB Eradication Programmes was a damning indictment of official oversight and efforts. Lorcan McCabe said that far from moving forward at an appropriate rate, the latest eradication programme seemed condemned to repeat the mistakes and inaction that had given us several decades of missed opportunities and often ruinous expense for farmers. Mr McCabe noted that ICMSA alone had attended 30 meetings on TB strategy in just the past year. He said that farmers “desperately” …

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Bill enabling use of CCTV to fight illegal dumping to be published

A NEW Bill which will enable local authorities to use CCTV to tackle illegal dumping is to be published in the coming weeks, Clare’s Fine Gael TD has learned. The issue which has been a huge source of concern, especially in the south and east of the county where large-scale fly-tipping is a recurring problem. The matter has been raised several times by local authority members who have been told the law must change in order to permit the use of CCTV at dumping blackspots. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Department of the Environment for a progress report on the legislation and regulation to enable local authorities to use CCTV in their fight against illegal dumping. In response, Minister for State Ossian Smyth outlined progress to-date. “The General Scheme of the Circular Economy Bill 2021 was published on 15 June 2021,” he told Deputy Carey. “It is my intention under the Bill to facilitate not only the use of CCTV, but also …

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Clare eco-activist set to ‘Rise’ at African conference

AN O’Briensbridge climate change activist is looking forward with a great sense of anticipation to meeting other worldwide recipients of a prestigious scholarship during a three-week stint in South Africa next summer, writes Dan Danaher. Saoirse Exton is one of the inaugural 100 Rise Global Winners, part of a $1 billion programme funded by philanthropists Wendy and Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and executive chairman of its parent company, Alphabet Inc. The lifetime programme aims to foster collaboration and new projects from young people to help solve the world’s thorniest problems. Rise winners will receive access to higher education scholarships, career development and funding for projects they create for public benefit. They also receive an annual three-week residential summit with the other winners, and mentorship and internship opportunities in their fields of interest and access to their colleagues in the global winner network. Because the costs of college degrees vary widely around the world, the prize for each …

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