Meenbog Wind Farm peat slippage: ‘Who will clean up this mess?’

While Irish Water has said its investigation shows “no immediate concern for water services” in the Finn Valley following a peat slippage, local representatives said they have taken “immediate action” in contacting statutory agencies regarding the safety of the water in the area.

Sinn Féin representatives from counties Tyrone and Donegal have called for “urgent answers” on the peat slippage near the Meenbog Wind Farm, which is south of Ballybofey, Co. Donegal.

‘Our reps have been on site and are horrified at the damaging scenes’

Visiting the site of the event yesterday (Sunday, November 15), representatives said the landslide has caused “substantial damage” to the Mournebeg River and the fish farm.

Councillor Ruarí McHugh said Sinn Féin representatives have taken “immediate action in contacting all relevant statutory agencies regarding the emergency [and] the safety of the drinking water in the area”.

He said he has made representations to Donegal County Council, the Loughs Agency, Irish Water and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that an “immediate stop be put on all works at the site until a full investigation is carried out and we know the exact cause of the bog slide”.

“We will also be raising this directly with the relevant executive ministers.”

Speaking at the site, West Tyrone MP Órfhlaith Begley added that she is concerned that the landslide, which has “now run downstream into the river”, will not only affect the Mournebeg River, but the surrounding rivers also.

Conservationists concerns

On Saturday, Mark Rooney posted a video on Twitter of the peat slippage, sparking considerable concern online.

Among the various groups that has responded to the peat slippage was Gweebarra Conservation Group, who said that the event was caused by “the wrong trees in the wrong place and a road constructed through the trees and bog to get turbines into the bog – which is polluting waterways on both sides of the border”.

“The planning system has to change,” the statement continued.

Who will clean up this mess? Is it even possible? Three salmon and trout spawning rivers are downstream of this catastrophe. Bogs and Sitka spruce plantations are not suitable locations for wind farms.

A spokesperson for Irish Water told AgriLand that it has investigated the incident with its operations staff, finding that there is “no immediate concern for water services” in the Finn Valley. They added: “The Mournebeg River flows away from Lough Mourne and may have more impact on the river downstream.”

In a statement on the issue, Finn Valley Wind Action said that the group “highlighted the risk of this in submissions to Donegal County Council and An Bord Pleanála but still planning was granted” for the construction of a wind farm.

“Continuing work on [the] wind farm has triggered the peat slide and has resulted [in] thousands of tonnes of peat and trees to slide into a burn, known locally as the Shruhangarve burn [which separates counties Donegal and Tyrone] and into the Mourne Beg river.

“The resulting suspended solids have caused the river to become saturated with peat.

“The River Mournebeg is a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI). The Mournebeg river is also a tributary of the River Derg SAC.”