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Minister for Agriculture makes representations to Cork Co. Council on behalf of Wind Farm developer

category cork | environment | news report author Wednesday August 02, 2006 12:53author by Quentin Gargan - Bantry Concerned Action Groupauthor email bantrypylonprotest at eircom dot net Report this post to the editors

Farmers Astonished at “ill considered” interference and call on Minister to Explain her position

Farmers in Bantry have were astonished to find a letter in the planning office from Mary Coughlan, Minister for Agriculture making representations on behalf of Bob Murnane who is currently seeking planning permission to extend the size of a controversial windfarm near Bantry.

The Ballybane windfarm being developed by local businessmen Murnane and O’Shea requires a grid connection to a sub-station 14 kilometres away. Over twenty farmers along the route have been blockading the ESB to prevent them from constructing overhead powerlines.
Letter from Minister Mary Coughlan to Cork Co. Council
Letter from Minister Mary Coughlan to Cork Co. Council

Farmers in Bantry have were astonished to find a letter in the planning office from Mary Coughlan, Minister for Agriculture making representations on behalf of Bob Murnane who is currently seeking planning permission to extend the size of a controversial windfarm near Bantry.

The Ballybane windfarm being developed by local businessmen Murnane and O’Shea requires a grid connection to a sub-station 14 kilometres away. Over twenty farmers along the route have been blockading the ESB to prevent them from constructing overhead powerlines.

Bantry Concerned Action Group (BCAG) is at a loss to understand why Minister Coughlan would make representations to Cork County Council on behalf of a windfarm developer who is in conflict with farmers. Bantry could hardly be further from her constituency, so this is not the normal parish pump letter on behalf of a constituent.

The farmers support green energy and never objected to the planning application for the original windfarm because they believed it would be routed via powerlines just a mile away. However they have now lodged objections to a proposed enlargement of the windfarm because of the existing standoff over how the windfarm is to be connected to the grid.

“We feel we’ve been sold down the river by our Minster for Agriculture” said Joe Burke, chairman of Bantry Concerned Action Group “She is supposed to be standing up for farmers in Ireland and here we find her making representations on behalf of businessmen who are insisting on taking powerlines across our farms”.

“The Minister is working way outside her brief” said Quentin Gargan, spokesman for the group “Farmers throughout the country are demanding that powerlines be put underground for valid health and safety reasons and the Minister should either support them in their quest or have the decency to stay out of the debate”.

In her letter, the Minister says that she wishes to make representations on behalf of Bob Murnane in relation to difficulties in commencing his project. “The only difficulty is Murnane and O’Shea’s instance that these powerlines go overground, despite substantial epidemiological evidence that living close to overhead powerlines increases the risk of children contracting leukaemia” said Gargan “If the Minister wants to resolve Bob Murnane’s difficulties, she should talk to Minister Dempsey and see if the Commission for Energy Regulation might introduce a pricing mechanism for wind energy that would cover the cost of putting cables underground, instead of making ill considered representations to Local Authorities” he added.

Bantry Concerned Action Group believes that had Bob Murnane, called on the Minister to meet with the farmers involved and see if something could be sorted out, that would be a different matter entirely and such a meeting could have been a constructive response by the Minister.

Minister Depsey has refused to consider the local situation because it is before the courts. BCAG does not accept that this is a valid reason – the matters before the courts are very narrow ones of planning and injunction proceedings.

The group now calls on Ministers Coughlan and Dempsey to meet with Bantry Concerned Action Group and discuss how the issue of overhead powerlines can be dealt with – not just in the case of this windfarm, but in future cases as well.

Unequal access to the ear of Ministers is only going to inflame the debate.

Further Information:
Quentin Gargan, Spokesperson.………….. 086 869 3140 / 027 52773
Joe Burke, Chairman BCAG ………………. 086-2705589 / 027 51585
Photo Library Shots:………………………… Provision, Cork
Photo Library Shots of farmers rally……….. Tony McElhinney 087 235 7308
BCAG website with map, reports etc. ……… http://www.bantrypylonprotest.com/

Epidemiological Study on childhood leukaemia;
www.bantrypylonprotest.com/wp-content/uploads/bmjarticlepylons_01.pdf

Related Link: http://www.bantrypylonprotest.com
author by Supporterpublication date Wed Aug 02, 2006 18:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I suggest a spokesperson from the campaign get in touch with the Donegal media and highlight this issue as the Minister, as are all FFers, is under pressure coming up to the next election.

Radio stations are:

- Ocean FM: www.oceanfm.ie
- Highland Radio: www.highlandradio.com

Papers are:

- Donegal Democrat: www.donegaldemocrat.com
- Donegal Post: www.donegalpost.com

Also maybe get in touch with Donegal Alternative to Pylons Group who may have experience in dealing with ESB, local media + Mary C.

author by n suport of bantrypublication date Thu Aug 03, 2006 13:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

cant understand why anybody in bantry would be "astonished" at seeing a letter from a FF minister in a council office file.Isnt that what theese FF shower spend their lives at? Did ye never hear of brown envelopes? Wouldnt "bob the builder"have sent mary a few of them,wonder was bob the builder in the "tent" at galway races? I bet he was,wasnt "mary" there. Dont be surprised at what you see in the files-its whats NOT in the files you want to watch. Keep the pressure on "bob the builder",he wont stick the pressure forever. WHAT WE HAVE,WE HOLD.

author by clogspublication date Thu Aug 03, 2006 19:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

While reading through the "story so far"... i was trying to think who was previous minister for agriculture.Then i remembered,it was joe walsh. And where was joe from? Donegal? no,but ur close....
he was from just down the road from donegal,cork to be exact....
2 B continued.........in papers no doubt. Now where is that phonebook.............

author by Astonished againpublication date Fri Aug 11, 2006 11:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I find it amazing that this information has not been in any newspaper or appeared in any tv news report since the news broke. The Minister is supposed to represent landowners not private developers. What does this say about how she feels towards farmers and it shows very little respect towards her Ministry for Agriculture. I think she should be called upon to hand in her resignation.

author by clogspublication date Fri Aug 11, 2006 23:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

more than you astonished,it is bizare to say the least that not one newspaper took up on this issue,OR did they try? maybe they were stopped? to say the minister for agriculture should resign is an understatement.Just look at the way the whole sugar beet saga was handled.Another thing i find "strange"; the Rossport 5 have been on the road from Rossport walking to Dublin for the past ten days or so,how much TV coverage did that get?How much newspaper coverage did it get.I remember in the 1960s when farmers marched to Dublin and sat outside government buildings for weeks if my memory serves me correct.What did the Minister for Agriculture ( god rest his gentle soul ) do with the farmers? Locked them up,thats what.They were flung in jail and a cold water pipe turned on them and that is a fact.Things have not changed a lot and from what i see happening around Ireland i think things are getting worse. Who own what in this country? Or is it a case of who owns who?Where would we b without INDYMEDIA. "They" do read it you know.

author by Busy Girlpublication date Sat Aug 12, 2006 14:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors



She was trundled out to deal with the fall-out of the Homeland Security issue at Dublin airport.

What a few weeks- and only a few years ago she was running round Donegal town
knick-knocking and playing with her friends.

author by support for bantry peoplepublication date Tue Aug 22, 2006 01:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

since when did the minister for agriculture start working on behalf of property developers and ignore the farmers that she should be trying to help.Whos side is she on or is that a stupid question? Saw interesting piece on SKY NEWS tonight about a developer who asked for a meeting with Bantry people,the very people he got high court injunctions against a month ago.What a bullocks he must feel like?I know what i would tell him if i met him.Just shows all the bluffing theese developers and esb really do. People power.All the groups like Bantry group that have similar problems all over Ireland should get together as one large group,could maybe join up with Malcome Thompsons group called ICSA. They seem to be the only group that is not in bed with ESB and company.?

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