A NUMBER of groups representing wind farm campaigners in Donegal and the Midlands held a lengthy and positive meeting with senior officials at the Irish Desk in the Environment Directorate of the European Commission, yesterday, November 4.
The meeting was facilitated by Marian Harkin MEP and was a timely opportunity to appraise the European Commission of the current plans regarding the development of significant and very substantial wind farms in many different parts of Ireland.
Four senior members of the Commission engaged with the campaigners on issues such as access to justice and on how citizens and communities could influence the planning process. Wide ranging discussions were also held on recent court judgements against Ireland on the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive and the Commission requested examples in Ireland of the continuing non-compliance with the Directive. Those present undertook to supply the evidence which will be assessed by the Commission and which could lead to the re-opening of the case against Ireland in regard to proper evaluation of an Environmental Impact Assessment.
All members of the delegation expressed satisfaction with the meeting and with the practical and helpful suggestions of the Commission. Marian Harkin said: “Today was the start of a process; it was an opportunity for groups to see what the European Commission could and could not do.
“While there is no European legislation to assist Community groups on funding to hire experts to assess the various planning proposals it was suggested that a complaint to the Aarhus Compliance Committee may prove useful. Where public participation and public access to information was prohibitively expensive we also had a very useful discussion on how to input into the consultation process announced recently by Minister Pat Rabbitte. This would ensure that issues like a health impact assessment and the cumulative effects of so many wind farm applications would be fully taken into consideration.”
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