The managing director of the West Clare Railway has claimed a planned €200 million windfarm – with pylons topping 400ft – places the railway’s future development in considerable doubt.
West Coastal Wind Power Ltd envisages erecting up to 45 of the 415ft-high units.
The project has divided opinion in the West Clare coastal community of Doonbeg where 79 landowners are due to share an unspecified windfall from land leases.
The West Clare Railway operates in the same parish of Shragh, the proposed site of the windfarm.
In his objection, managing director of the tourist attraction Jackie Whelan claims “the adverse visual impact on any extra turbines on the landscape will have such a devastating effect on the economy, community and amenity value of the area that the railway’s future development in the same district is placed in considerable doubt”.
Mr Whelan recently announced plans to extend the rail line to serve Kilrush.
The appeals board has received 78 submissions with the Irish Peatland Conservation Council and state agency Inland Fisheries Ireland expressing further concerns.
In its objection, the IPCC said planning permission would set “a very bad example for nature conservation and could compromise Ireland’s commitment to conserving protected areas throughout the country”.
In a submission on behalf of a number of local residents opposed to the plan, architect Michael Leahy said “the proposed development is unprecedented in scale for this county and indeed for any part of this country so close to the coastline”.
Doonbeg Community Development Ltd also voiced opposition.
The appeals board is expected to hold an oral hearing before reaching a decision in May.
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, January 23, 2012
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