AN BORD Pleanála yesterday refused planning permission for a €12 million windfarm due to fears it could result in a peat landslide.
The proposed 375ft, eight-turbine windfarm in the Slieve Aughty mountain range in northeast Clare lies 17km south of a windfarm at Derrybrien, Co Galway, which was the scene of a landslide in 2003 that dislodged 450,000 cubic metres of material and which killed 50,000 fish.
Earlier this year, Clare County Council granted planning permission to SWS Energy Ltd at Maghera in the Slieve Aughties for the proposal, in spite of widespread local opposition.
In a submission to An Bord Pleanála, the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board objected to the plan as “it is not possible for the developer to guarantee that a landslide will not occur arising from the construction and operation of the windfarm that would be environmentally catastrophic”.
The fisheries board stated that “three major bogslides have occurred in recent years that have devastated fish stocks and caused significant long-term damage to the aquatic habitat”.
It pointed out: “In all cases, experts had been employed, which suggests that it is not possible to mitigate the risks associated with such works .” An Taisce also raised concerns with An Bord Pleanála that disturbed peat could pollute watercourses and threaten aquatic species.
Appealing the council decision, the Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) stated: “If the proper stress tests specific to peat soils are not conducted prior to the above proposed development, its construction could lead to a bog burst, leaving Ireland again liable to prosecution under the Environmental Liability Directive.”
Refusing permission, An Bord Pleanála stated it was not satisfied the development “would not prejudice the stability of the peatland on the site of the proposed windfarm or adversely affect the hydrology of the bog in the adjacent Glendree Bog candidate Special Area of Conservation”.