FRUSTRATION is growing among Parteen residents over the failure to remove a controversial wind turbine located near a local factory, reports Dan Danaher.
A few weeks ago, Clare County Council requested a local developer to decommission and remove a controversial wind turbine erected near a Parteen factory on or before Thursday, April 8 following an alleged breach of a planning permission condition.
According to a Council enforcement notice, the turbine and base structure as constructed is allegedly not sited at the location as permitted under planning permission initially granted in 2010 and is therefore not in compliance with this approval.
If within the specified period the steps required under the enforcement notice have not been taken, the Council warned the developer may be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.
Seamus Madden, c/o Limerick Blow Moulding, was granted planning permission to erect a single 800kW wind turbine, 73 meters high with a rotor diameter of 53 meters, and with ancillary road access at Knockballynameath, Parteen, on May 28 2010, subject to 12 planning conditions.
Before planning permission expired, an application for an extension of time was submitted by the applicant and this was granted on January 26, 2016, extending planning permission until January 10, 2021.
Deputy Cathal Crowe has warned this issue will be escalated by the Council unless the turbine is removed as requested.
“Throughout the four-week period through which the developer was required to comply with this directive, the windmill rotated and operated on an almost continual basis which really frustrated residents.
“I have made the Council aware of this and have asked them to expediently now move this dispute to its next phase, which may now involve a legal process up to and including a court case and possible hefty fine.
Deputy Crowe claimed locating a wind turbine in a village centre is entirely inappropriate, owing to the scale of it and its dominance in the skyline.
“Many people in Clare struggle to obtain planning permission to build homes and often must lower the roof height in order to be granted permission – yet it’s wrong in an area that’s residential and largely made up of bungalows and dormers that a structure seven or eight times their height would be allowed to be built.
“The Parteen wind turbine is of similar height to Big Ben at Westminster in London – it’s far too large for its location.
“There is an urgent need for the new wind energy guidelines, which are at a very advanced stage and undergoing final scrutiny with the department, to be formally issued to all local authorities.
“A very delicate balance has to be struck between achieving a low carbon emission economy and also not landing colossal and intrusive infrastructure on top of communities.
“The new draft guidelines crucially will include a stipulation that wind turbines should be set back at least 500 metres from nearby homes.
“The ticking clock has run out in Parteen and now it is imperative that Clare County Council quickly move to escalate matters so that the wind turbine there is dismantled and that the field in which it’s located is restored to its normal agricultural state in the quickest possible time.”
The Clare Champion contacted the company on Wednesday afternoon, but was told no member of management was available to comment at the time.
In response to Clare Champion queries, a spokesperson for Clare County Council said, “The planning enforcement process is a legal one and will be dealt with in that forum.
“As in all other planning enforcement cases the matter is being dealt with by the county solicitor and the planning authority will be making no further comment on this matter.”