LOCALS opposed to the erection of wind turbines between Timahoe and Ballyroan received a boost last week when they were given leave to appeal the decision to grant permission in the High Court.
Henry Fingleton of People Over Wind (POW) described the decision as “great news” in the group’s fight against Coillte’s proposal for 18 wind turbines. While the case is before the courts, Coillte will not be able to carry out work, according to POW. The legal process is expected to run over a course of 12 to 18 months and cost locals tens of thousands in legal fees.
“It’s great news, but it’s appalling that a community has to raise €40 or €50,000 to see justice done. It’s a terrible thing, really, but we are pleased to get leave to appeal.”
An Bord Pleanála had granted planning permission to Coillte last June after Laois Co Council had initially refused the application. An Bord Pleanála’s own inspector had also recommended its refusal, but was overruled by the board of the planning body.
It was on this ground that the group was looking for a review of the decision.
“The executive of An Bord Pleanála overruled their own inspector and Laois Co Council and they gave no real reasons,” said Mr Fingleton.
Mr Fingleton said that this is the sixth wind farm project where the board of An Bord Pleanála had overruled its own inspector.
Mr Fingleton said that this is no coincidence and three of the nine-person executive had “close relationships” with the wind industry.
Last week, Laois county councillors followed several other local authorities in attempting to impose a blanket ban on wind farm developments.
Mr Fingleton said that this development was a realisation of the government’s “flawed wind policy,” which would result in inefficient wind turbines placed close to homes, blighting the landscape and having negligible environmental benefits.