The British building firm that inspired one of the Dubliner’s most famous songs has applied for planning permission to build a massive windfarm north-west of Drumquin.
McAlpines own the firm that has applied to build the 25-turbine Castlecraig Windfarm on 1,390 acres.
The planning application spans the townlands of Sloughan, Curraghmacall, Killoan and Willmount. The turbines will be 128 metres (420 feet) high.
According to maps submitted to Planning Service, at least one is to be built at a height of 220 metres (720 feet). This will leave the top of the turbine over 1,000 feet above sea level. The site is to accessed by a forestry road from the direction of Scraghy.
The proposed windfarm will be the second-largest in Northern Ireland.
Windfarm Developments submitted the planning application for the Castlecraig Windfarm.
According to documents in Companies Registry, the company has an address in the Willowbank Business Park in Larne.
The only shareholder is English-based Renewable Energy Systems, Europe, owned by Renewable Energy Group. This is owned by construction giant Alfred McAlpine, the 29th largest private company in Britain.
The company, immortalized in the song ‘McAlpine’s Fusiliers,’ has annual sales of over £1billion.
According to a spokesperson for Windfarm Developments, the Castlecraig Windfarm will provide enough electricity for 42,500 homes. “This windfarm will make a significant contribution to our efforts to tackle climate change and protect our finite natural resources,” a spokesperson said. “It is a well-designed project on a well-chosen site.
Six years ago, American-owned Enron Wind applied to build a windfarm close to the proposed Castlecraig development.
The planners recommended refusal, the reason being it would “be significantly detrimental to the visual amenity and character of the area; have an adverse effect on nature conservation interests; and have an adverse effect on Lough Lee from construction activity and contamination.”
That application was withdrawn.
The Castlecraig application is the 14th proposed windfarm within a radius of about half-a-dozen miles to the south and south-west of Castlederg.
Former Ulster Unionist Assembly member Joan Carson said she was concerned at the growing number of windfarms. “I think they are being sold to people about being environmentally friendly, but they have never been proved to be viable,” Ms Carson said.
“Wild-life is another great concern.
There are a lot of birds on moorland and bog areas, they move at night, and the blades are a danger. At the moment, the only people making money are the contractors and the developers,” she said.
By Anton McCabe
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