An image from the group organising the meeting showing the distance between the proposed wind farm and homes in the area.

Public meeting on Milltownpass wind farm plan

A group of people concerned about proposals to develop a wind farm near Milltownpass are to hold a public meeting next week, where they aim to elect a committee to represent the community on the issue.

The meeting is on Monday April 4 at 7.30pm in Bloomfield House Hotel, and it will discuss a proposal by Statkraft (Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy, according to its website) to develop a wind farm of seven giant industrial wind turbines less than 2km from Milltownpass.

The meeting has been organised by a group of residents from Coralstown, Gaybrook, and Milltownpass.

Information and background on the proposal will be shared and attendees will be able to check the distance from their properties to the nearest proposed turbine.

A large attendance is expected, and a committee will be publicly elected to represent the community on the issue. At up to 195 metres high, twice the height of the Statue of Liberty, the proposed turbines at would be the tallest in Ireland and would among the tallest in Europe.

Ten years ago a similar proposal in nearby Gaybrook was refused planning permission by both Westmeath County Council and An Bord Pleanála after a campaign that resulted in more than 300 objections.

Local man Bernie Newman, who was active in that campaign, said: “The main grounds for refusal back then was the negative impact on the landscape and that’s every bit as valid today as it was then.”

Cllr Emily Wallace said: “The Statkraft proposal is a ludicrous proposition for the area, nothing has changed in the last 10 years. The Westmeath County Development Plan strictly directs these huge industrial wind turbines to cutaway bogs and our community fought extremely hard and invested heavily in ensuring the area would be protected. But we are up for the fight again, and we will meet these speculators head-on.”

On one side of the proposed wind farm, work is due to begin on Ireland’s largest solar farm. Clonfad Solar Farm, also owned by Statkraft, was granted permission in November 2019. On the other side is Milltownpass Bog, a protected National Heritage Area (NHA) owned and managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Milltownpass was one of a small number of communities to be awarded funding in January 2022 from the Community Foundation of Ireland for a professional biodiversity plan to preserve local habitats.

Milltownpass Tidy Towns secretary John Delamere, who will be speaking at the event, said: “Over the last year, we’ve been collaborating closely with the NPWS on a rehabilitation project to rewet the bog and restore its habitats in order to preserve this important natural heritage.

“It’s important that our community are aware that these giant turbines would be just a few hundred metres away from the NHA and could endanger the future of the habitats we’re actively trying to protect.”

Tom Wallace, former chairman of the Midlands Industrial Wind Turbine Action Group (MIWTAG), will be there on the night to share the history of wind farm proposals in the area and what the Statkraft proposal could mean for the community if allowed.

Coralstown resident Jonathan Ennis, whose property is approximately 900m from the proposed development, will also speak at the meeting. He said: “This enormous development will be right on the doorsteps of people living in Milltownpass, Enniscoffey, Coralstown and Gaybrook. From speaking with people in the area, it’s clear that there’s a lot of confusion and concern out there regarding the proposal and what it means for them, their properties and the wider area.

“We’ve also found that a lot of people living close to the site were completely unaware of the proposal until we informed them. It’s important for people to come to the meeting to find out the facts for themselves and make up their own minds before it’s built. The meeting will be informative, and all are welcome to attend.”

To keep up to date search Coralstown/Gaybrook/Milltownpass Industrial Wind Turbine Action Group on Facebook.