Residents in the East Mayo village of Barnacarroll have lost out in a bid to stop a windfarm development in the area.
Permission was originally granted in 2002 for three turbines in the area of Mace Upper. When the developer, Noel Walsh, applied to install bigger turbines, there were eight letters of objection from local residents. Concerns were raised about health and safety, noise pollution, loss of property value and the impact on scenery and tourism. Despite these issues, permission for higher turbines with larger propellers was granted in December 2006.
One local couple from Barnacarroll appealed the decision on five grounds. The couple live less than 500 metres from the proposed windfarm, and the husband who suffers from vertigo told the appeals board he had been medically advised that turbines aggravate the condition.
The appellants also pointed out that the windfarm is just over two kilometres from Knock Shrine, and said the development would have an adverse impact on this and other attractions in the area.
The couple also raised concerns that a fresh Environmental Impact State-ment (EIS) had not been requested to take the increased size of the turbines into account. They acknowledged that the area is zoned as suitable for wind-farms, but said the decision to grant permission did not take scenic amenities into account.
Seamus Owens Design and Planning made a response to An Bord Pleanala, pointing out that the nearest home to the windfarm would be that of the developer himself. The response noted that larger turbines were needed because the original models were no longer available, and pointed out that a mobile phone mast had already been granted for a higher site than that of the windfarm.
Assessing the appeal, Inspector David Hill of An Bord Pleanala found that the development was in line with guidelines set out by the Department of the Environment and Mayo County Development Plan.
The inspector pointed out that no medical evidence to support the claim that windfarms aggravate vertigo had been submitted.
He said there was no reference to the issue in the Wind Farm Development Guidelines. For these reasons, Mr Hill said he could not consider the health claim as “a material consideration” in the appeal.
On the issue of damage to scenery, the inspector found that the windfarm as originally planned would be a visible feature in the rural landscape. However, the increase in size would have little additional impact.
The inspector also found that residential amenities would not be affected by the increase in the turbine size. He said there would be no shadow flicker on the appellant’s property, and that any increase would not be in the direction of Barnacarroll.
Permission for the alterations to the planned windfarm was granted subject to three conditions. Apart from the increase in height and size, the turbines must be constructed exactly as outlined in the original planning application. The inspector also stipulated that permission for the alterations be extended to January 6, 2009.
By: Fiona McGarry
5 September 2007
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