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Wind turbines ‘have been approved’ in Moyle

A number of wind turbines have been approved in the Moyle area in recent years, Minister of the Environment Alex Attwood has told Moyle Council.

In recent times there have been complaints from Moyle councillors about the number of turbines which have been refused planning permission.

Supporters of the turbines say it is vital that businesses like farms can use wind energy to cut down on electricity costs during the credit crunch but the impact on the landscape in areas close to places like the Giant’s Causeway has to be taken into account.

In a letter to Moyle Council, Mr Attwood said: ‘Thank for your letter of 7 November about wind turbines in Moyle District with specific reference to E/2011/0063/F, a wind turbine of 37m hub height (overall height of 47.5m) at a site 320m approx NW of 177 Straid Road, Bushmills, for Mr Dobbin.

‘You may wish to know that forty-two planning applications for wind turbine development have been received in the Moyle District over the last ten year period and over half of which have been submitted since the start of 2010. I can confirm that to date sixteen of the applications have been approved, four have been refused and three have been withdrawn.

‘I acknowledge that PPS18 supports projects for renewable energy generating facilities in appropriate locations but must stress that each landscape has a different capacity for accommodating wind energy development.

‘Moyle District enjoys the Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site (WHS) and areas of both the Causeway Coast and Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), therefore, a cautious approach is necessary when dealing with wind development in such landscapes which are of designated significant value, as such areas may be difficult to accommodate wind turbines without detriment to the region’s cultural and natural heritage assets.

‘It is therefore not possible to crete a matrix against which to determine applications because each proposal must be considered on its own merit, taking into account the specific scale of development, location, sensitivity of the area and consultation responses from statutory consultees.

‘Current planning policy provides clear guidelines as to how applications for wind development will be considered and is contained primarily within Planning Policy Statement 18 – Renewable Energy (PPS18), Best Practice to PPS18, and Wind Energy Development in North Ireland’s Landscapes – Supplementary Planning Guidance to Accommpany PPS18 and the North East Area Plan and the draft Northern Area Plan and where relevant Planning Policy Statement 6 – Planning, Archaeology and the Built Heritage (PPS6) and Planning Policy Statement 2 – Planning and Nature Conservation (PPS2).

‘Turning to the matter of the specific planning application, E/2011/0063/F was recommended to council in October 2011 with a refusal because the proposal was contrary to PPS18, PPS6 and PPS2. The divisional office deferred the application at council’s request and facilitated an office meeting on 3 November.

‘Whilst I note that three members of Moyle Council attended the meeting it was unfortunate that neither the applicant nor the agent attended the deferred office meeting.

‘As no information has been submitted to address the refusal reasons the divisional office will consider the proposal further and will return the application to council in due course,’ said Mr Attwood.