By Kate Heaney
DONEGAL County Council has appealed to the public in an effort to solve the mystery of road works at the ‘Dearg Line’ road near Barnesmore Gap.
Locals living between Barnesmore and Castlefin are concerned the works may be a precursor to the massive 49-turbine windfarm for which planning permission is being sought from An Bord Pleanála.
The road works appear to be professionally carried, at considerable cost, with signage inviting people curious about it to ring 086 8908898. The Donegal News, and locals, have been trying unsuccessfully for a number of weeks now to get a reply from this number. Last week the council responded to a query from this paper regarding the road works stating “I can confirm that the council is not carrying out this work.”
A further query lodged with the council questioned if they knew who was doing the works? Had permission been sought, or was enforcement action going to be taken?
This week the council issued the following statement: “Donegal County Council is not aware of the identity of the person(s) carrying out this work. If you or any of your readers have information in relation to the identity of the person(s) responsible for carrying out this work then contact the Council at 074 91 53900.”
The photographs of the road works were taken by a concerned local person and forwarded to the Donegal News.
“I am very worried that the works going on are in preparation for the widening/demolition of an historic railway bridge nearby to make way for the transportation of giant wind turbines. The historic bridge, part of the old Ballybofey to Donegal town railway line, connects the main road near Barnesmore Gap to the ‘Dearg Line’ road. The area is close to one of the sites of the proposed for the Carrickaduff Wind Farm,” the local said.
Meanwhile, this week hill walkers in the area where the windfarm is proposed spoke of access roads to Coillte lands being dug up and the area blocked by recently installed double fences and deep trenches. “Coillte are normally very good about granting access for walkers. There are now real fears that all of these works are to assist the development of the windfarm as this would be part of the site. No one seems to want to talk about all of these works going on. If someone started working on a local road without the council’s permission, surely the council would step in fairly quickly? Why not now?” the local asked.
The Donegal News contacted Coillte to find out the purpose of the recent works in the Meenbog area. A spokesperson for Coillte replied: “The work carried out at Ballybofey forest is no way connected to the Carrickaduff Wind Farm proposal. Recent works at Ballybofey forest were necessary to protect and enhance the estate’s perimeters, and does not affect Coillte’s open forest policy, which allows public access for pedestrian recreation.