Thursday 6 May 2010

Tesco's windmills dwarf Liberty Hall

Tesco's plan to build two wind turbines - taller than Liberty Hall - in the north Dublin countryside is being challenged by local residents.

Appeals have been lodged with An Bord Pleanála against a decision for the go-ahead to the plan.

The turbines are so tall that search and rescue helicopters will have to plot new routes to safely bypass the turbines in poor visibility.

In addition, air traffic control at Dublin Airport has concerns that the two turbines - which would soar nearly 100 metres over Donabate, Portrane and the surrounding areas - would be picked up by its radar system.

As well as the residents' move to block the plan, Tesco itself is appealing conditions set down by Fingal County Council planners.

The turbines are to be built to help power the retail giant's distribution centre in Donabate. They will have a support base of 65 metres, topped by a huge blade that will bring the total height to 91 metres.

By comparison, Liberty Hall is just 60 metres and the country's tallest building - the Elysian in Cork - is 72 metres in height.

Following concerns raised by both the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) and Dublin Airport, Tesco engaged a consultancy to determine the potential impact. The major concerns expressed by the IAA were addressed and Fingal County Council granted permission subject to 15 strict conditions.

In its appeal, the Donabate Portrane Community Council cites the local authority's development plan, which states that renewable energy developments should not have an unacceptable impact on the character and appearance of the surrounding area.

The appeal states that photomontages included with the planning application "clearly show the surrounding area visually impacted significantly".

Particular concerns are raised over the the impact on Newbridge Demesne - a heritage area of national importance - Broadmeadows estuary and Rogerstown estuary, which are both designated Special Conservation Areas.

"The turbines will be visible from within Newbridge Demesne," the appeal states. "Newbridge Demesne is not only a public amenity, it is a tourist attraction and decreasing its attraction has economic consequences for the Donabate area."

Local residents, John and Maeve Riordan, complain in their appeal that the turbines would visually dominate the area. They also describe the potential impact on flight paths from Dublin Airport as a "primary concern."

Planning permission was granted after information was clarified with the IAA, but the organisation "continued to issue caution", the appeal points out.

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