Call for urgent talks with residents over Mayo wind farm project 

AN appeal has been issued to Bord na Mona and the ESB to talk directly to the residents living near the Oweninny wind farm and accept the principle that those communities living closest to the turbines should receive special benefits.

“While the operational fund of €232,000 per annum for community benefit projects is welcome it is a pre- requisite that BnM and ESB accept the principle that those communities living closest to the wind turbines should benefit in a special and particular way,” Senator Michelle Mulherin said.

The Ballina-based representative was reacting to letters she has received from the project's joint developers, Bord na Mona and the ESB, in response to her representations calling for a financial acknowledgment for those living directly beside the 29 wind turbines which are due to start producing electricity in 2019.

"It is not good enough for ESB and Bord na Mona to pass the buck over to the council by stating that they have asked Mayo County Council to commence the establishment of this fund as soon as possible.

"As the developers they should be to the fore in resolving this issue with the concerned residents on the ground. Mayo County Council is not stopping them from doing so.

"Clearly, the community living near Owenniny are frustrated and disappointed to date that this is not being recognised in their dealings with and the response of these two State companies.

"It is beholden upon BnaM, ESB and Mayo County Council to sit down with the local Committee of concerned residents and work out fair criteria for the operation of the community fund.

"I am calling on Mayo County Council to pull all parties together so that criteria for distributing funds and the governance and oversight of same are established as soon as possible with the wishes of the community central to all considerations.

"This is also an issue I have highlighted with Minister Bruton. This community is prepared to accept renewable energy infrastructure, in this case large turbines, which will help achieve a public good - the delivery of which will help towards achieving our renewable electricity targets for 2020.

"This will not be asked of people living in towns and cities. Therefore, rural dwellers should see meaningful benefit for this.

"This is the challenge now laid before the Owenniny windfarm developers and their opportunity to get the right and fair formula in consultation with locals to achieve this.

"I will be taking up these issues with Bord na Mona management directly when they attend the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change this week.”