Wednesday 21 November 2007

Nephin windfarm plan is refused

PLANS to build a wind farm at a site in the Nephin Beg mountain range have fallen foul of rules on the protection of sensitive views and landscapes.

Cnoc Mhuire Partnership of Main Street, Kiltimagh lodged plans in March of this year to build three turbines in the townlands of Fiddaunageeroge and Glendavoolagh. The capacity of the plant was to be 6.9 megawats. The site on the northern side of Bullamore Mountain is close to Bunaveela Lake and the Deel River, and lies around seven miles from Bellacorrick power station.

Because of the scenic and unspoilt location of the site, planners expressed concerns about the suitability of the wind farm project. The turbines were proposed for a location less than 500 metres from the Owenduff/Nephin candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC). This scenic site overlaps with Altaconey Bog, which is a proposed Natural Heritage Area (NHA). Assessing the application, planners noted that the site is mainly moorland and shows some signs of overgrazing. Further Information (FI) was requested on a number of issues, and the developers answered all of the councils’ questions including queries about construction and development waste, and the service and the re-fuelling of the plant. During the consultation process, planners issued an advice note to Cnoc Mhuire Partnership outlining “seri-ous concerns” with the wind farm project. They told the developer they were not fully satisfied that the peat soil was capable of supporting three turbines, and said “slope stability remains a critical issue at this location”. Planners also told the company that the new Proposed Draft Development Plan for Mayo contains a wind energy strategy. In that document, the site in question has been identified as one where a wind farm would not normally be allowed. After an assessment of the plans, permission for the wind farm was refused. Planners gave two reasons for refusal, both relating to contraventions of the Mayo County Developent Plan 2003 to 2009. The proposed development was deemed to be out of character with the sensitive landscape of the area. It was also judged to be likely to interfere with “views and prospects worthy of preservation and protection” under the County Development Plan. It’s not yet know if the developers of the proposed wind farm will take up the option of lodging an appeal with An Bord Pleanala.

Fiona McGarry
Western People

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