Waterford councillors are to seek independent legal advice on whether they can alter part of the County Development Plan in a bid to reject wind turbines.
Parts of west Waterford around Knockanore are currently classed as a preferred zone for wind energy development and have received interest from a renewable energy company.
However councillors voted overwhelmingly last month to reclassify them as ‘no go areas’.
This was rejected by the council’s CEO, who maintains the local authority would be at risk of financial and legal costs if it contradicts national policy.
Fianna Fáil’s James Tobin says any further development on the site should be suspended until the advice is received.
Labour’s John Pratt says the development plan is out of date and needs to be reviewed.
“It’s a sad day for Tallow and Knockanore and west Waterford. We’re doing this for a reason, we’re not changing the plan for the sake of changing it, we felt there were genuine reasons it should be changed but because of the amalgamation our development plan which should have been up for renewal wasn’t… so we had no other opportunity to change it.”
Sinn Féin’s area rep for Lismore Louise Brierley says the situation has been partly caused by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael TDs rejecting proposed legislation last year.
Her party’s Wind Turbine Bill aimed for a setback distance of 10 times the turbine height as well as allowing for communities to have a 20 percent stake in each wind development.
“National politics does affect the local politics, I know some local councillors feel these are community issues, but I would argue against that and say this is a national political issue that when their own party is voting against a bill that could protect a community… (they need) to be more aware of what TDs are doing and make them more accountable to how they are affecting us in our communities.”
Fine Gael’s Damien Geoghegan says legal advice is needed to resolve the difference between councillors and the CEO.