Wind farms: ‘It makes you want to shout about the injustice of it all’

Rural communities are continuing to battle against “the injustice” of wind farm developments, a vocal wind energy opponent has warned.

Val Martin, a suckler farmer and retired Garda detective, has been raising concerns about the laws governing these developments for almost two decades.

Speaking to AgriLand, Martin outlined why he became involved: “When you see what is actually going on in this country with wind farm developers and the way they are treating the environment, and the people living in the communities in which those farms are earmarked, it makes you want to stand up and shout from the rooftops about the injustice of it all.”

Back in 2000, Martin’s interest in the area was raised when a planning application was made by a private developer to build a wind farm close to his farm in Kingscourt, Co. Cavan.

Nothing happened for nine years thereafter.

Then, in 2009, a planning application was once again lodged with Cavan County Council for what Martin described as “a wind farm comprising seven very large turbines” – each of which were 126m in height.

He said it was at that point that he began to ask himself questions about how to best approach planning applications and what could subsequently be achieved.

A lot to learn

Martin went on to say that he had a lot to learn. As a former Garda he admitted to having a good understanding of legal matters, but “very little knowledge” about environmental law or environmental planning.

“I didn’t know what was involved; but a group of us decided to object to the development in Kingscourt. We muddled through in relation to the planning application, but in the end, the wind farm developer got planning permission anyway.”

Three years later – in 2013 – the developer applied for ‘exemptive status’ in respect of cabling at the farm.

The application included 5km of cabling that would travel through the town of Kingscourt and on to a power plant in Co. Meath.

Martin took judicial review proceedings against the application – residents in the area were fuming and they supported his endeavours.

“I took a judicial review against that on the grounds that the developer could not exempt the wind farm – in the way you might exempt a garden shed – I succeeded with my review,” he added.

Despite his efforts the planning application eventually went through.  The wind farm that was first applied for in 2000 – with a number of modifications – is now being developed in Kingscourt – it comprises five turbines, 2MW and 126m in height.