The far famed beauty of the hills around Strabane could be jeopardised if 14 planning applications for the erection of more than 120 wind turbines get the go ahead.
It was revealed a meeting of Strabane District Council last week that three applications for windfarms on Owenreagh, Crighshane and Churchill have already been approved. More worryingly however is the news that further applications for a total of 99 wind turbines have been received for Tievenamenta, Gortmonly, Carrickatane, Altgolan, Seegronan, Gronan, Koram Hill, Tullywisker, Slieveglass, Aghamore and Meenakeeran.
And West Tyrone’s tag as the windfarm capital of Ireland will be cemented if plans to site around 155 windfarms in the Omagh District are also given the nod.
Compare these figures to Derry, where just eight wind farms are in the planning pipeline and it becomes apparant that West Tyrone could be heading for a turbine blight if all applications are eventually approved.
But what do environment groups like Friends of the Earth have to say on the wind farm issue?
Friends of the Earth welcome renewable ‘green’ energy sources, but warns of a need to reduce electricity consumption or the entire landscape will be covered in turbines to try and meet demand.
Lisa Fagan, campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said that although she wasn’t familiar with proposals under consideration, her organisation was supportive of renewable energy.
“Northern Ireland is one of the windiest places in Europe, so it makes sense to harness this resource to meet our energy needs. Wind energy allows us to reduce our carbon emissions, helping to combat climate change. It also helps reduce our reliance on power stations burning coal, oil and gas. And in these troubled times, it’s prudent to reduce our reliance on gas and oil coming from unstable parts of the world.
“Wind energy projects such as those under consideration enable us to cut our emissions of climate changing gases, increase our diversity of supply and enhance our fuel security,” Ms Fagan said.
‘Wind energy projects such as those under consideration enable us to cut our emissions of climate changing gases’
By Conor Sharkey
17 July 2008