Local community forced to raise €100k to protect their village.
Despite approvals from both their County Council and An Bord Pleanála, a High Court judicial review found in their favour.
Over 5 years ago Galetech Energy Developments Limited had signed up local farmers in secret to make their lands available for the construction of large wind turbines. Some people in the community picked up the signal that their rural, farming community was about to be turned into an industrial estate with 35 wind turbines of 135M high across two developments, both North and South of the village. At a public meeting a committee was formed and that was the start of a 5 year long battle against the development.
The committee hired various consultants to validate their concerns. Although an excellent case was built against the development and the fact that the committee had the support from the elected members of Roscommon County Council, the County Council still decided to grant planning permission for both developments. It was felt by the committee that the consultations and the invited submissions were just “tick-box” exercises.
The committee, along with the Department of Arts Heritage and Gaeltacht and other concerned residents appealed the Council’s decision to An Bord Pleanála. Despite the Bord’s own inspectors recommending a refusal for both developments, An Bord Pleanála decided to grant planning permission for both developments. The committee maintained that an Appropriate Assessment, removing all reasonable scientific doubt that the developments had no negative impact on neighbouring Natura 2000 sites, had not been carried out. With the support of the Department, the “committee” in the person of Ted Kelly sought a judicial review in the High Court. Ms Justice Finley Geoghegan overturned the decision of An Bord Pleanála mainly on these grounds and remitted the applications back to the Bord.
Over the period of five years the committee raised and spent almost €100,000, – hiring consultants and legal experts. The judge directed that the committee be awarded their legal costs.
Albert van Beek
Wind Turbine Action Group South Roscommon