Deputy Peter Burke, Fine Gael TD for Longford Westmeath has today confirmed that Minister Simon Coveney has approved the section of the variation to Westmeath County Development plan to allow area 7 of the plan be reduced to low capacity ensuring the area in the vicinity of Westmeath’s most prominent heritage sites will be protected.

Speaking in Mullingar this week, Burke stated that after weeks of controversy and discussion in relation to this issue, he is satisfied that the Minister has taken elected representatives and the people of Westmeath’s strong feelings into account in coming to this decision and removed the proposed Ministerial Direction in relation to Area 7.

“I have been in repeat contact with Minister Simon Coveney in relation to the proposed variation to the County Development Plan and I assured people previously of his views. This is a huge issue here in Westmeath and I have been highlighting to him how important it is that the section relating to the low capacity in Area 7 of the Wind Energy Development Map be retained in the plan. I am relieved after much discussion over the last few months the Minister is not opposing the variation inserted by Westmeath County Council in relation to area 7. Specifically, this section outlines that Area 7 will be an area of low capacity and not suitable for wind development.  The area includes large swathes of land and some of Westmeath’s most important and scenic heritage sites such as the Hill of Uisneach.

“I am happy to finally receive clarity that this protection will remain in the Westmeath County Development Plan 2014-2020. Anyone who has visited the Hill of Uisneach and its surrounds cannot but be impressed by its beauty and the construction of wind farms in this area would completely spoil the natural beauty of the site. David Clarke and his team are doing fantastic work at the Hill and they need to be supported.”

“ Cllr. Andrew Duncan originally proposed the variation and has been working relentlessly on this issue and it is very positive to see that everyone’s efforts, research and passion for their home county is being recognised at the highest level. I am glad to see that common sense has prevailed and now we must work together to support projects that will attract tourism to our county”