Glenties Wind Farm Information Group, GWiG, have expressed both shock and disappointment at footage aired on last night's RTE Investigates programme, which has implicated Letterkenny based Independent Councillor John O'Donnell.
In the programme, Cllr O'Donnell is seen talking to an undercover reporter, posing as a wind farm agent, with O'Donnell offering to facilitate the rezoning of lands in Donegal for wind farm development. According to a statement from GWiG, Cllr O'Donnell failed to mention the fact that such rezoning was unnecessary, since the previous Council had zoned almost all of Donegal open to consideration for wind farm development.
Post from CWiG's Twitter account.
GWiG have stated that in the summer of 2014, they were instrumental in having a variation voted through on the County Development Plan which would limit wind farm development, noting that Cllr O'Donnell was present in the Chamber when this motion was passed, speaking in favour of GWiG. The Glenties group goes on to point out that Cllr O'Donnell's exchange while being secretly filmed by RTE contradicts his position in the council chamber.
In their statement, GWiG states firmly that, "The corruption in the planning system must be tackled by Government and the enthusiasm of three of the Councillors who featured in the programme to facilitate wind farm developers in exchange for personal gain highlights the unhealthy relationship between this industry and those in a position to influence local zoning and planning."
The Glenties group is also deeply concerned that Cllr O'Donnell intimated on last night's programme that he could call on up to 20-30 Councillors to support pro wind farm zoning when the Local County Development Plan is up for its mid-term review in the new year.
In October 2014 Minister Kelly issued a Ministerial Direction overturning the approved Variations which GWiG sponsored, and which were introduced by Cllr John Campbell. The Minister's decision is now subject to a Judicial Review which is due to be heard on 22nd January, 2016. This Court Action has been taken by Councillor Campbell in the public interest.
CWiG believes that Cllr O'Donnell's actions on the RTE programme have damaged the integrity of Donegal County Council, and that the Councillor has betrayed the public's trust and should resign.
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