Sunday 14 August 2011

Planning appeal lodged by firm proposing €10m wind farm

THE DEVELOPERS of a proposed €10 million wind farm in west Clare have appealed Clare County Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the development.

This follows An Bord Pleanála confirming yesterday that an appeal has been lodged by McMahon Finn Wind Acquisitions Ltd for a six-turbine wind farm located nine kilometres from the west Clare coastal village of Quilty.

Last month, the local authority refused planning permission to the plans for a 400ft-high wind farm over, in part, the impact it will have on the protected and rare bird, the hen harrier.

Birdwatch Ireland and a large number of locals had expressed their opposition to the plans.

The company last year lodged plans for a 12-turbine 13MW wind farm, but halved the number of turbines in response to local concerns in its new application. However, in its comprehensive decision, the council refused planning permission to the proposal on seven grounds.

Refusing planning over the impact the proposal will have on the hen harrier, the council stated that the general area is known to be an important foraging habitat for the hen harrier, which is afforded protection under annex one of the EU habitats directive.

The council stated that “it is not satisfied that the proposed development, by itself or in conjunction with existing and permitted wind-farm developments in the vicinity, will not have a significant adverse ecological impact on the habitat and foraging grounds of the hen harrier”.

Birdwatch Ireland stated that the proposed wind farm is located within the top five sites for the hen harrier in Ireland where a recent survey detected 10 pairs. Residents in the area had also opposed the plan and, in response to their concerns, the council refused planning permission as “the proposed development may seriously injure the amenities of residential property in the vicinity by reason of impact of noise and visual overbearing and thus depreciate the value of property in the vicinity”.

The council stated: “The proposed development would therefore be contrary to the Clare County Development Plan that requires any development to strike an appropriate balance between facilitating wind energy development and protecting the residential amenity of neighbouring property in respect of noise proliferation and visual impact”.

Further, the council ruled that the proposed development would pose an unacceptable risk to water-quality standards in the receiving watercourse and would militate against the objectives of the water framework directive.

Those who objected now have an opportunity to lodge a submission on the appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

A decision is not expected until later this year or early next year.

Irish Times

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