Communities vow to fight against proposed Ballymanus wind farm, which would feature 150-metre turbines across the landscape
A new application for a wind farm spanning a large area of south Wicklow has been met with opposition just days after the file was lodged with Wicklow County Council.
ABO Wind Ireland Ltd is seeking permission to construct a development known as 'Ballymanus Wind Farm' comprising eleven 150 metre wind turbines at locations in Roddenagh, Killaduff, Ballymanus, Askekeagh, Ballinglen, Preban, Tomcoyle, Kilballyowen, Killacloran, Clone, Coolahullin, Ballycoog Upper and Lower, Ballykillageer Upper and Lower, Ballintemple, Coolgarow, Kilcarra East and West, Glenart, Shelton Abbey, Kilbride and Killinskyduff.
It is understood that since the company's previous attempt to secure permission, the application has been amended to reduced the number of turbines from 12 to 11 with the removal of one in the Aughrim/Annacurra area in an effort to reduce the visual impact on the local community.
Since the planning application was lodged last week, opposition group South Wicklow Wind Action Group (SWWAG),which represents residents in the aforementioned areas, has vowed to take every possible step to prevent such a development from going ahead.
A public meeting has been called for Thursday, July 20, at 8 p.m. in Lawless's Hotel, Aughrim.
According to SWWAG spokesperson Richard More O'Ferrell there is 'massive opposition' to the plan already.
'It is expected the ABO application will receive a unanimously negative response, similar to that voiced at the time of the previous application, which was rejected by the council just over two years ago,' he said.
He said that the group will be providing assistance to local residents who wish to make observations on the application.
A fundraising campaign to cover any potential future legal costs will also be launched.
'At the meeting, SWWAG will provide assistance to local residents and the wider community who wish to prepare submissions to Wicklow County Council.
'In addition, it will officially launch a major fundraising campaign to empower the community to challenge both the ABO Ballymanus application and all new wind farm planning applications right through the Bord Pleanála appeal process and, if necessary and appropriate, to the High Court,' Mr More O'Ferrell said.
The re-submission of plans by ABO Wind has also been criticised by local politicians who have pledged their support to those in the community who are fearful of the development getting the green light.
Wicklow TD Pat Casey has branded the company's failed 2015 attempt for planning permission as a 'cynical scoping exercise' and said that, regardless of public consultation carried out by ABO Wind Ireland Ltd, there is still great concern about the plans.
'Their so-called public door to door consultation following this refusal has been twisted to suggest that somehow there is community buy-in to this development. I will be working with local Councillors and the people of rural South Wicklow to ensure that this further attempt to impose this unacceptable development is once again rejected,' he said.
Similarly, Cllr Pat Kennedy said that the response from the local community already indicates that there is a lot of opposition to the plans.
'Since last Thursday, my phone hasn't stopped ringing with people concerned about this, from both a health and a visual point of view,' said Cllr Kennedy.
'These same people utterly rejected this planning application the last time it was submitted. There were over 400 objections the last time, including my own, and I want to assure all of these people and indeed all of the families of south Wicklow that I will be objecting to it this time on the strongest grounds possible.
'I will also be calling on my fellow public representatives to object to this planning application in the interests of families and their children,' he said.
Full details of the application and Environmental Impact Assessment Report can be obtained through Wicklow County Council's planning section.
Submissions must be filed by August 8 and a decision is expected to be reached by August 29.