Coillte proposes to build 7 colossal wind turbines on the slopes of Mt Leinster, adjacent to a Special Area of Conservation. With a proposed height of 178m, significantly higher than any existing turbine in the region, this scale is normally placed offshore.
There has been inadequate public consultation about this wind farm proposal and the majority of the local community are unaware of it.
As local representatives, we urge you to safeguard this visually sensitive and ecologically valuable area and to protect our natural heritage for future generations. We appeal to you to collaborate in order to save Mt Leinster and the Blackstairs by taking the following measures:
1. Suspend the current windfarm planning application process until circumstances allow for appropriate public consultation. Coillte’s planning strategy has deprived the local and wider community of their right to engage in meaningful participation.
2. Introduce an immediate moratorium on new wind farm developments pending updating of the outdated 2006 national wind energy guidelines.
3. Strengthen County Carlow’s Wind Energy Strategy (WES) by making Mt Leinster and The Blackstairs a “No Go” area for windfarm development and industrialisation of any sort.
4. Strengthen legislation to protect our biodiversity and our Special Areas of Conservation (SACs).
5. Protect and preserve our wild places.
• This proposed windfarm would destroy the Mt Leinster region and have a hugely negative impact on local tourism. Mt Leinster attracts locals and visitors from all over the country to its mountain wilderness. They engage in all sorts of activities from strolling along the beautiful country lanes in the unspoilt rural foothills of south County Carlow, to hillwalking, mountain biking, paragliding, kite flying, eco trailing, foraging and birdwatching.
- The proposed turbines would be directly in front of the Nine Stones, a designated protected viewing point. The wonderful panoramic vista that currently greets visitors would be replaced by the sight, sound and flicker shadow of these massive industrial turbines, which would totally dominate the landscape.
- The turbines would be seen from many scenic trails in Ireland’s Ancient East including The South Leinster Way, The Mount Leinster Heritage Drive, The Sky Road and newly launched Turas Columbanus part of the Europe-wide Columban Way.
• With the exception of a small group of local landowners who were briefed in Oct 2019, there has been no public consultation by Coillte. Notwithstanding Covid 19 restrictions, there was no dissemination of information by any means for over a year.
- An online information site about the proposed windfarm only went live at the end of Nov 2020 - see www.croaghaunwindfarm.ie approximately 9 days before the planning process began.
- The distribution of an information brochure, only circulated in the first week of Dec 2020, was limited to houses within 2km of the proposed windfarm.
• Of additional concern is the proposed access route for transport of building materials from Bunclody to Mt Leinster. This route runs through an area of outstanding natural beauty comprising narrow country roads, lined with ancient hedgerows and granite stone walls. They represent a rapidly vanishing aspect of our built and natural heritage. Once destroyed they can never be replaced. Coillte state that they will “temporarily upgrade” this road in order to facilitate transport of oversize loads, which would include 110M columns and 65M rotor blades.
• The windfarm would also have a detrimental ecological impact. The Blackstairs contains a vast SAC, a designation which protects endangered habitats and biodiversity. The proposed windfarm site is just 400M from this SAC boundary. Only 13% of Ireland has SAC status. In this time of biodiversity crisis it is profoundly ecologically unsound to build an industrial wind farm so close to an SAC.
- The proposed construction site is partly comprised of blanket bog. The recent catastrophic bogslide in Donegal demonstrates the devastating environmental destruction wreaked by inappropriate windfarm planning on bogland.
• The new climate emergency bill has identified offshore wind energy as the most efficient solution to Ireland’s climate crisis. Our government has committed to the rapid development of this technology early next year.
- It makes no sense to put gigantic and environmentally destructive wind turbines on land in one of the most scenic parts of Ireland when a much more efficient and environmentally sensitive technology will be available offshore in the near future.
• Carlow’s WES describes the Mt Leinster/ Blackstairs region as unsuitable for windfarm development because of its value for tourism, the high quality of its scenery and the sensitivity of its landscape.
- This same strategy states that Mt Leinster and 14 other areas across the Blackstairs are still “open for consideration” for windfarm development.
- This anomaly needs to be addressed - if planning permission is granted for this windfarm it will set a precedent and create the potential for the proliferation of windfarms throughout The Blackstairs.
• Currently there are very few wind turbines on the Carlow Blackstairs, but the NW corner of the Wexford Blackstairs is saturated with them.
- Wexford’s WES has responded to this by making the Wexford Blackstairs a “ No Go area" for windfarms.
- Can Carlow County Council collaborate with Wexford County Council and treat The Blackstairs mountain range as a single entity and protect it accordingly?
• Mt Leinster and the Blackstairs have escaped the industrialisation that has blighted so many other parts of rural Ireland. Wild unspoilt places are few and far between. Once lost they are gone forever.