The Roscommon County Development Plan 2022-2028 was adopted at a special planning meeting of the local authority on Tuesday and will come into effect six weeks from now on April 19th.
While the plan was approved, a major concern expressed by members centered on current national guidelines relating to renewable energy, particularly setback limits for wind turbines.
There was widespread agreement that Chief Executive Eugene Cummins’ recommendations had to be implemented but a number of members were critical of the current guidelines from Government, describing them as “outdated”.
Councillors were in broad agreement that it was now critical that Ireland focused on becoming self-sufficient when it came to energy.
Cllr. John Naughten proposed a letter be written to the Minister for Environment, Climate Action and Communications calling for “sensible and modern policies around renewable energy”.
Cllr. Donal Kilduff called for what he described as a “more sensible approach to renewable energy”.
“We need an abundance of energy if we want to live a Western lifestyle…and our greatest asset is wind,” he said.
Cllr. Kilduff added that Ireland could become the “rechargeable battery of Europe”.
“We are fuelling our way of life currently by enriching oligarchs and princes in the desert,” he added, and said that new sources of renewable energy were critical unless we wanted to “live in the dark most of the time”.
Cllr. Orla Leyden said it was regrettable that Government guidelines were outdated but that members couldn’t turn their backs on communities and that solar power is a “far quicker answer” with grants available to homeowners.
Responding to members’ concerns, Director of Services Shane Tiernan said the Government target of 80 per cent of energy from renewables by 2030 was a “steep hill” but that it could not come at any price and that the local authority would have to be cognisant of guidelines.
Mr. Tiernan said the plan was “very positive” for the county and thanked the planning team including Mary Grier, Pio Byrnes and Caroline Mockler for their work.
Chief Executive Eugene Cummins said the members’ approach to the discussion was refreshing and that communities would be listened to, before adding that wind energy would be an essential requirement in the future.
“We are going to see more turbines…but the full rigours of the planning process will be implemented and adhered to,” he said, before highlighting the ongoing work of the Council’s Climate Change Unit in reducing the county’s carbon footprint.