An Bord Pleanála has overruled the recommendation of its own inspector to give the go-ahead to a new €50 million wind farm near Lissycasey in west Clare.
In its ruling, the appeals board dismissed an appeal by An Taisce against a Clare County Council decision to give the go-ahead to plans by Hibernian Windpower Ltd to construct an 11-unit 375ft high wind farm at Boolynagleragh, Lissycasey.
The proposal is one of four wind farms involving 40 wind turbines in the general area that have secured planning permission, are seeking planning or are operational.
In its ruling, the appeals board ordered the omission of two turbines. The wind farm is to be located on a 180-hectare site containing some bog and Hibernian states that it will produce 27.5MW of electricity.
In his inspector’s report, Bord Pleanála planner, Conor McGrath recommended that planning permission be refused as there was a failure to investigate and adequately describe the impact of the proposed development on ground stability in the vicinity of the turbines.
Mr McGrath also stated that there were inconsistencies in evidence submitted in relation to the cumulative impact of wind farms on the protected hen harrier bird.
He recommended that the bord would not be satisfied that the proposed development would not have significant adverse impacts on the environment and the proposed development would be contrary to the proper planning and development of the area.
However, the Bord, in its formal order, stated that the proposed development would not adversely affect the natural heritage of the area, would not have a significant impact on any protected bird species in the area, would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity, would not give rise to water pollution and would be acceptable in terms of risk of land slippage.
The Bord stated that, in deciding not to accept the inspector’s recommendation, it had regard to the site investigation report including the peat risk assessment it received, noting that peat depths on the site are generally low.
The bord concluded that the project "would not have any significant impacts on the local hen harrier population - noting that, cumulatively, wind farm developments in the area occupy a small part of the overall foraging area for hen harriers".