Ballymore wind farm meeting tonight

A group of local residents concerned about the proposed development of a nine-turbine windfarm in the Moyvoughley and Drumraney areas of Westmeath will be holding two community events this week to assist locals interested in making a submission to An Bord Pleanála on the plans.

The events are taking place in Ballymore Community Centre on today, Thursday April 13, from 6pm to 9pm, and in Moyvoughley Communuity Centre tomorrow, Friday April 14, from 6pm to 9pm.

They are being organised by the Moyvoughley Wind Turbine Awareness group, which operates the Facebook page, 'No to Wind Farm in Ballymore, Drumraney, Moyvoughley Area'.

A planning application for the windfarm, officially named the Umma More Renewable Energy Development, was lodged with An Bord Pleanála last month, and public submissions on it can be made up until May 4.

The application states that the development would be located 2km southwest of Ballymore, and 6.6km north of Moate, in the townlands of Ballynafearagh, Raheen, Baskin High, Baskin Low, Lissanode, Umma Beg or Moneynamanagh, and Umma More.

It would consist of nine turbines, "with an overall ground-to-blade tip height of 185 metres; a rotor blade diameter of 162 metres; and hub height of 104 metres," as well as associated foundations and hardstanding areas.

Peter Cunningham Jr, one of those involved in organising the community events next week, said they were prompted by the number of enquiries made by people who wanted to make a submission to An Bord Pleanála but didn't know how to go about it.

"Sending submissions to An Bord Pleanála is not something that many people would be familiar with, so the plan is to have a few of us in Ballymore Community Centre and Moyvoughley Community Hall so that we can explain how it is that they make a submission."

He said that the events would not be about telling people what to say in their submission, but rather to assist and facilitate them if they wanted to make their views known.

The windfarm proposal has been developed by the Enerco Energy Ltd, and the planning application was lodged on behalf of Umma More Limited of Lissarda Business Park. Lissarda, Cork.

Mr Cunningham said one of his concerns was that the development would "open up south Westmeath" for additional windfarms.

"You can see the way it's gone in Offaly, with one windfarm going up and then lots more following on from it," he commented.

"Ireland's Climate Action Plan set a target of nine Gigawatts of onshore wind turbine capacity (by 2030).

"When you look at this (South Westmeath) wind farm you're talking about 55.8 Megawatts, which is only going to account for 0.62% of that nine Gigawatts.

"So at what point do people realise that these turbines are either going to cover the country, to reach nine Gigawatts, or else a different policy will have to be put in place to come up with an alternative?" Mr Cunningham said.

The planning application for the development is for a 30-year lifespan for the turbines, and details are included in the application of 18 landowners who have given consent to have their land used for the project.

A website for the development stated that it had the potential to make "a significant contribution to achieving the country's renewable energy targets and assist in reducing Ireland's dependency on fossil fuels".