Taughmaconnell wind farm plan attracts seven submissions

Seven submissions have been lodged to Roscommon County Council at the time of going to press in connection with a second major wind farm project earmarked for South Roscommon, but that figure is expected to rise substantially ahead of the closing date today (Wednesday). The latest development, the second phase of the so-called Seven Hills Wind Farm from Cavan-based Galetech Energy Ltd would see 19 wind turbines installed in the townlands of Clooncaltry, Feacle, Milltown, Skeavally, Tawnagh, Tobermacloughlin and Boleyduff, close to Taughmaconnell, along with others in Cam in Brideswell and Cuilleenolagh, near Dysart. Backers of the €76 million project claim up to 600 jobs could be created in the local area during the construction phase if it gets the green light. This comes after the company applied last year for permission to construct the first phase, an €80 million 16 wind turbine project close to the Dysart village, plans which provoked major opposition in the area and generated over 400 submissions during the planning process. Further information was lodged by the developers earlier this month in recent to that particular project, and an official verdict is expected from planners in Roscommon by October 4 next. "The size and number of wind turbines is overwhelming in terms of visual impact and the siting of the turbines is too close to human habitation," one submission from the Taughmaconnell area argued this week in relation to the latest proposals, adding that the location of a turbine less than a kilometre from their home would mean they would never be able to sell it. Eight more would be located with 1.5 kilometres of their house and 17 in total within a two kilometre area, the submission stated. The written submission also expressed concern about the impact of noise in terms of blade flicker, the lack of public consultation, effects on the landscape and wildlife and the enormous construction impact the project would have in the area. Last weekend The South Roscommon Wind Farm Action Group held a number of public meetings in Dysart, Taughmaconnell and Brideswell in a bid to assist local people who want to make a submission in relation to the wind farm ahead of the closing date. Speaking to the Westmeath Independent last week, Darren Sherry from Galetech Energy stressed that phase two is a very good project and a myriad of studies have been completed on the proposals since they first began research back in 2008. "It is properly planned," he said underlining the safety of the plans. "No houses at all will be within 500 metres of the turbines," Mr Sherry added, pointing that at 135 metres high, the turbines will smaller than some already erected in Ireland, for example at Lisheen, and are also lower than those planned for Mount Lucas in Offaly. The second phase of the development will produce enough electricity to power 19,000 homes and involves 50 separate landowners in the area. It's likely be 2013 or 2014 before work begins on the project if it progresses unscathed through the planning process. A decision is due from Roscommon County Council on phase two of the wind farm plans by September 7 next.

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