Monday 25 September 2017

Minister in threat to overrule councils that ignore wind-farm policy

Eoghan Murphy has said he may overrule local councils. Photo: Collins
Eoghan Murphy has said he may overrule local councils. Photo: Collins

Ryan Nugent

Environment Minister Eoghan Murphy has written to all local councils telling them if they disregard national guidelines on wind farms in planning, he will consider using his powers to overrule them.

A planning circular letter was distributed to high-ranking officials in councils last week in relation to wind-farm guidelines.

The minister has told the local authorities not to change their county development plan as that would affect the national policy.

Mr Murphy said that local authorities played a critical role in translating overall national policy on energy and meeting EU regulations.

The minister can implement Section 31 of the planning and development act, which could veto any plans that affect this national policy on renewable energy.

A public backlash has pressurised local councillors to go against wind-farm plans.

But it comes amid increased pressure on the Government to take action, with fines of up to €600m expected from the European Commission in 2020.

Speaking to RTÉ, former environment minister Noel Dempsey said the country was nowhere near EU targets.

"What the Government is looking at, at the moment, if we fail to reach our targets for 2020, which we will, is paying out anything between €400m and €600m to the European Commission in fines because we failed to reach our renewable energy targets," he said.

"The Government clearly has a major headache on its hands that is not of huge interest directly to a local councillor who happens to have a wind farm proposed for their area and is meeting a lot of local opposition."

Irish Independent

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