City & County Mayor Pat Nugent. "I have no interest, good, bad or indifferent." LOCAL elected representatives, including Waterford’s Mayor, should reflect the “will of the people” especially when there is overwhelming support for a certain action.
That’s according to a local campaign group opposing the construction of giant wind turbines in Mid County Waterford by BSB Community Energy Ltd.
Mahon Valley Against Turbines were responding to the decision by Mayor Pat Nugent (FG) to abstain from a recent vote calling for a variation to Waterford’s County Development Plan.
The motion, which received cross-party support, sought a variation to the plan to include new setback distance guidelines and was unanimously passed by Councillors at the July plenary meeting of Waterford City & County Council.
Prior to the meeting, members of Mahon Valley Against Turbines had asked that any member who has a “vested interest” in the BSB Community Energy project, or any other energy infrastructure projects in the county, abstain from the vote.
This was reiterated by Cllr Cha O’Neill (Ind) who asked that any Councillor who has a vested interest in the specific proposal, or any further proposal that would be affected by the motion, declare this interest and abstain from the vote.
During a roll call vote, all Councillors who were present voted in favour of the motion – Cllr John O’Leary (FF) was absent and had sent his apologies.
However, Mayor of Waterford City & County Cllr Pat Nugent abstained from the vote.
Asked by The Munster Express as to the reason why he had abstained from the vote on the high profile issue, Mayor Nugent said he decided to adopt a “neutral” stance on the matter.
He said he has no “vested interest” in the specific proposal or any other energy infrastructure projects in County Waterford.
“I have no interest good, bad or indifferent,” he said.
He said his neutral stance was reflective of the fact that he is Mayor of all of Waterford City and County and is therefore representing more than 100,000 people.
Asked if he would be adopting this neutral approach on other issues which may arise during his tenure as Mayor, he said he would.
Mahon Valley Against Turbines PRO Paul Lannon said the group respected Mayor Nugent’s decision but questioned why he had abstained when all of his Council colleagues who were present had voted in favour of the motion.
“Elected representatives have to look at the will of the people. The majority of people in County Waterford are against this proposal so I can’t see why somebody in that position would want to remain neutral on this issue,” he said.
The issue has generated huge controversy in Mid County Waterford, with hundreds of concerned locals attending a recent protest march in Bonmahon earlier this month.