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Turbine numbers set to double

The number of wind turbines in Fermanagh will more-than double if all current planning applications are approved. Concerns that more wind turbines will destroy Fermanagh’s natural beauty have been considered in a Department of Environment (DOE) document, however targets stipulate that Northern Ireland must generate 40 percent of its electricity from indigenous renewable sources by 2025 and wind power is expected to go some way towards meeting that target.

SDLP MLA Tommy Gallagher has called for the applications to be granted only if they do not have “a negative impact on scenery or tourism potential in the future”.

The latest application submitted to the Planning Service, to erect five wind turbines at Teiges Mountain outside Brookeborough will bring the total number of proposed new turbines to 70.

There are 54 wind turbines in operation or currently under construction throughout Fermanagh. These turbines have the capacity to generate a total of 102 MW (megawatts), which is the equivalent of powering approximately 62,200 homes.

Ten turbines are in operation on Slieve Rushen, Derrylin and 18 more are under construction. These turbines can generate 59 MW. Callagheen wind farm, Belleek has 13 turbines with the capacity to generate 22.75 MW and Tappaghan wind farm, Lack has 13 turbines which generate 19.5 MW.

Proposed turbines include one at Ballyreagh, Tempo; five at Teiges Mountain, Brookeborough; eight at Gortgall, Boho; nine at Tulliniod, Derrygonnelly; 10 at Belmore Mountain, Belcoo; 11 at Old Barr, Boho and 13 at Ora More, Belcoo. An extension of six turbines is planned for Callagheen wind farm and seven turbines are to be added to the existing Tappaghan wind farm. Together these 70 new turbines could generate 155.35 MW of electricity, which is the equivalent of powering approximately 94,700 homes.

The DOE’s “Wind Energy Development in Northern Ireland’s Landscapes, Supplementary Planning Guidance” document claims:

“Slieve Rushen which is currently under construction includes the construction of extensive tarmaced access roads. It is the largest existing or contested wind farm in Northern Ireland with 125 metre high turbines occupying a prominent site on the North Eastern flanks of the domed top of Slieve Russel.

“When completed it is likely to dominate the landscape of this relatively small area and be visible from Enniskillen and much of Lower Lough Erne at distances of 10-15 kilometres.”

The document continues:

“If all of these applications were contested they would affect the character and skyline of key adjoining landscape and recreational features, notably Lough MacNean Upper and Lower and Cuilcagh (including the Marble Arch Caves). Development could also affect several important tourism gateways from the Republic of Ireland.

“Issues to be considered include the cumulative impacts associated with transboundary wind farm developments in counties Donegal, Leitrim and Cavan.”

SDLP MLA Tommy Gallagher commented:

“Yes we need more wind turbines in Fermanagh provided development is appropriate. We are still behind in our targets in relation to reducing carbon emissions.

“There is more we can do, we need to use alternative materials including wind and tide power. Development has to be balanced, that’s very important in Fermanagh because we have assets such as scenic beauty and the potential for tourism.”

He added: “With the price of oil rising and with all the concerns around climate change it is important to develop alternative energy sources. We have better potential than most for energy from wind and waves. We can develop this and at the same time protect our scenery and natural beauty.

“Wind turbines are very beneficial in reducing our dependence on Carbon.”
Mr. Gallagher concluded: “We now have a single electricity market on the island so it is important that we co-operate across the island so that by 2025 we meet our target of generating 40 per cent of our electricity from renewable resources.”

The Impartial Reporter