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Wind farm for Bonni’?

The Bonniconlon skyline could boast a new feature shortly – if a proposed wind farm gets the go-ahead.

A comprehensive plan to construct twelve 2.3 megawatt wind turbines at Bonniconlon East and Drum, Ballina, is Mayo’s latest attempt to capitalise on renewable energy sources.

Michael Mullarkey and others, Drumsheen, Bonniconlon, submitted plans to Mayo County Council last week for the development of the 27.6 megawatt farm – consisting of wind turbines of steel towers and composite fibre rotor blades.

Each hub will measure 80 metres, with a rotor diameter of up to 83 metres. Base to blade height will be in the region of 121 metres.

A sub-station control building, wind turbine transformers, turbine hardstands and all associated electrical works are also included in the application.

As part of the plan, new access tracks will be a requirement with strengthening and widening of the existing turbary tracks envisaged. It is proposed that the existing on-site borrow pit be excavated and expanded for road making materials.

This is not the first time a wind-generating proposal went to planning stages in the area.

Over four years ago, in January 2004, developers were refused planning permission for a 15-turbine project at Carrowleagh in Bonniconlon. The case was appealed and An Bord Pleanála subsequently refused planning on a number of grounds.

The plan now before Council planners comes just months after a Wind Energy Strategy for Mayo was approved by the county authority, on the grounds that it is reviewed again at the end of this year.

While amending the strategy for inclusion in the County Development Plan, wind energy campaigner Cllr Michelle Mulherin, said that renewable energy sources, and, in particular, community wind farms, are a priority of Mayo County Council. The Ballina-based councillor also urged that the County Development Plan ‘should not be neutral as to whether or not wind farms are constructed, but should be proactive in encouraging and facilitating their development’.

Wind farm developer Michael Mullarkey and his co-applicants will have to wait until June 12 next to learn of the planning decision.

Anna-Marie Flynn

The Mayo News

6 May 2008