An Taisce denies being opposed to wind farms

Organisation objected to 40 per cent of all wind farm applications sent to An Bord Pleanála

Wind farms: An Taisce has said in the past that it “enthusiastically supports” the Government target to generate at least 40 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Photograph: Ben Curtis/ PA Photo

Wind farms: An Taisce has said in the past that it “enthusiastically supports” the Government target to generate at least 40 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Photograph: Ben Curtis/ PA Photo

Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 06:00

An Taisce has said it is not against wind farmers despite objecting to 45 projects in the past four years.

Documents received under the Freedom of Information by The Irish Times reveal that the heritage organisation objected to 40 per cent of all planning appeals for wind farms sent to An Bord Pleanála.

Some 110 cases went to the board between the start of 2009 and the end of December last year.

Twice as many planning permissions for wind farms were upheld as were objected. Some 53 were approved while 26 appeals succeeded. Sixteen cases were deemed as invalid and 15 are still pending.

An Taisce has said in the past that it “enthusiastically supports” the Government target to generate at least 40 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Major wind farms
However, it has objected to a large number of major wind farm developments. It was successful in its appeal to An Bord Pleanála against a 27-turbine project in Connemara, but it was unsuccessful at appealing a decision against an 11-unit wind farm at Lissycasey, Co Clare.

An Taisce chairman Charles Stanley-Smith said the organisation was not against wind farms on principle, but only if they are in the wrong place.

“Most of those we objected to were because the proposed ones are either in the middle of an area of special preservation or else in a place which could cause bog slides,” he said. “It is not the wind turbines themselves, it is the roads infrastructure. In quite a number of place there was bog slides. We would have put in objections into places where that was likely to happen.”

He insisted there needed to be a national strategy to work out where wind farms should be situated.

Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) chief executive Kenneth Matthews said some 60 per cent of wind farm projects appealed to An Bord Pleanála were still granted planning permission.

Last year, the IWEA published best-practice guidelines to help its members meet planning criteria guidelines.

“I can’t comment on their [An Taisce] logic or reasons for objecting. However, I would say that the planning process is very, very rigorous in Ireland, ” he said.

“There are a lot of projects that do not get approval. The planning process very much works. Everybody is entitled to get involved in it.”