PLANS for a 27-turbine wind farm in Connemara capable of powering 40,000 homes a year have been rejected because the proposed site is "too beautiful".
An Bord Pleanala yesterday refused permission for the renewable energy project near Rossaveal, Co Galway, saying it would have too negative an impact on the landscape, which was "one of the principal assets" of the local tourism industry.
Gaoi an Iarthar Teo had sought a 10-year permission to build a wind farm in the townlands of Lettermuckoo, Muckanaghkillew and Derrynea, about 4km north of Rossaveal and close to Casla.
The 27 turbines had a maximum height of 98 metres, and the plans included a substation, two control buildings and the upgrading of access roads.
The project had been granted permission by Galway County Council, and the board's inspector said that permission should be granted, noting that the landscape had been "seriously eroded" by extensive turf cutting in the area.
But An Bord Pleanala decided to refuse permission, saying that despite the site being designated as suitable for wind farms, it would "erode the visual and environmental amenity" of the area.
The wind farm could have powered 40,000 homes a year, or 75pc of all households in Galway. The 1,000-hectare site is used for farming and turf-cutting.
The plan was developed by Gaoi an Iarthar Teo, a partnership between a wind farm development company and a group of local landowners.
A spokesman for the company said it was "disappointed" with the decision, adding it was considering its options.