Many residents in Lemanaghan are opposed to a proposed wind farm. Councillors want the contribution levy to go back into communities.
A local councillor told the October meeting of Birr Municipal District that millions of Euros in fees should be directed back into local communities which are in the vicinities of wind farms.
Cllr Eamon Dooley pointed out that according to regulations wind farm companies have to pay local authorities a certain sum. Therefore a sum of €15,000 per megawatt has to be paid if the wind turbine is 75 to 175 metres in height, and €20,000 per MW if the turbine is 175 metres in height.
"This money should be channeled from the Council towards the communities," he said, "creating new facilities or generally improving things for communities living in the vicinity of the wind farms, thus benefitting the people nearest to them. As we change from brown to green it's only right that the communities nearest the turbines benefit the most. The money could also be used to improve things in the wider Municipal District as a whole.
“There is often a sense of not being treated fairly. For example, some people living near the wind farms see their immediate roads still in a bad condition, but meanwhile funding is going to villages and roads a few miles away. By using the levies we could carry out improvements in both places – in both the immediate communities and in the villages and towns further away; a win-win for everyone.”
Cllr John Carroll agreed. "Funding from the wind turbine charges, under the Contribution Levy Scheme, could go towards many excellent causes such as Birr 20:20, a community group which is driving so much in Birr Town. Birr 20:20 is being funded by philanthropists at the moment."
Cllr Carroll also pointed out that finding the 15% in matching funding for Just Transition funding was proving difficult for many groups. He said Tidy Towns groups would greatly deserve wind farm derived funds, as would Christmas lights committees.
Cllr Dooley told the meeting that last December he proposed, during a Council meeting, that the Contribution Levy per megawatt for a wind turbine be increased significantly, by an extra €10,000. This increase was accepted and implemented by the Council.
“Most wind turbines produce six megawatts,” he remarked, “therefore there could be a very significant income for local communities. For example if planning permission in Lemonaghan was granted for 19 wind turbines, that would bring in a Contribution Levy of €2.8 million, some of which could be directed back into the Lemonaghan area.” He said the Contribution Levies are one-off payments.
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