It will be in the hands of An Bord Pleanála, but if Mullingar’s town councillors had a say, Westmeath would remain free of wind turbines.
At their April meeting, councillors unanimously voiced their opposition to the development of windfarms here and neighbouring counties.
Cllr Ken Glynn said local opposition to the building of 180m wind turbines has “nothing to do nimbyism” but rather concerns about the impact they will have on Westmeath.
The Fianna Fáil councillor added that there were a host of issues worrying people, including shadow flicker, noise pollution and the impact on property values. He also said that in his opinion, few jobs will be created.
While Minister Pat Rabbitte appears to support Greenwire and Mainstream’s plans to construct up to 200 wind turbines in the midlands, Cllr Glynn said that “he has to listen to people and their concerns”.
“People power is growing by the day,” he said.
Noting that the opposition to the turbines is “across the political divide”, Cllr Pat Collins said that he and his colleagues “have to look after people who vote for us”.
“I don’t know if people in urban Mullingar are aware of the huge implications. They are monstrosities that will destroy the environment,” he claimed.
Cllr Mick Dollard said that development of windfarms would “switch off tourists” at a time when “we are trying to sell Westmeath as a destination”.
His Labour colleague Gerry Sheridan said current planning guidelines date from 2006 and are unsuitable for the size of turbines proposed for Westmeath.
Fine Gael’s Ruth Illingworth said that while she has no problem with the idea of exporting energy to the UK, windfarms should be developed along the Irish coast and on bog land.
She also said that she was “fairly certain” that windfarm technology would be outdated relatively soon.