Emotions run high at meeting

Emotions ran high at a community meeting on Saturday evening over a wind farm development near Kinnego Bay, with those against it described as '˜blow ins' backed by one or two '˜renegades.'

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 12:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 1:37 pm

Up to 50 people were at the meeting at Carrowmenagh Community Centre, at which the developer of the two wind turbines on Crockbrack Hill, Niall Doherty, was also in attendance.

Many were in favour of the turbines, with one man in the audience stating they were the ‘silent majority’ and another claiming there had been ‘crude attempts to create division’ in the community by those opposed to the development. Others said those who opposed the turbines did not speak for the whole community.

At one stage during the meeting, two local journalists, one from the ‘Journal’ and another from the ‘Inishowen Independent,’ were subjected to a tirade of verbal abuse from some of those in attendance, including allegations of ‘bias’ towards those opposed the wind farm. After denying this, and stating they were there to report on the meeting and represent that view, the journalists were shouted at and challenged by many of those in attendance and told they would be ‘judged’ on what was written in this week’s papers. No-one at the meeting intervened to stop the abuse, which continued for around 10 minutes before the chairman moved matters on.

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As the meeting began, Mr Doherty told how he had a “significant track record” in renewable energy. He outlined the planning process in relation to the development and said Donegal County Council had displayed a “large degree of bias from the outset,” adding there had been some “degree of political interference.”

Mr Doherty said he chose the site as it had been declared a ‘preferential area’ for wind farm development in the County Development Plan and subsequently identified as ‘open for wind farm development.’

He added there has been quite a degree of resistance from certain members of the community, whom he described as ‘blow ins’ and ‘one or two renegade locals.’

It was later stated that no-one was suggesting ‘that anyone is not part of the community.’

Mr Doherty also said they have received “two or three phone calls a day” from the Council since they “broke ground” in relation to ‘inaccurate’ information which was being “fed” to the Council. He added he expected the development to be ‘the best in Europe,’ adding the turbines were the “Mercedes Benz of technology.”

Mr Doherty also said the recent ‘dummy run’ of turbine parts to Moville was “one of the most dangerous” his company and the transportation company had undertaken due to a protest at the corner near the Moville tree. He claimed people had been ‘on the road’ and said the lorry driver had been ‘shaken’ by the incident.

When asked if he could have stopped the protest with an injunction, Mr Doherty said he had “no right” to stop anyone from standing on a public road. He said he had received ‘co-operation and support’ from business owners along the corner and thanked them. Mr Doherty said he had ‘no problems with peaceful protest’ but said lives had been put in ‘danger.’ He also told those in attendance it would be “very useful” if they “fed back” to the political representatives about how they feel they have been “misrepresented.” He claimed he had been subjected to “harrassment” which had been “difficult” but said it was “nice” to be able to re-affirm the support of the community.