An Bord Pleanála has rejected planning approval for a 14-turbine wind farm near Moycullen in Co Galway.
The board, which overruled its inspector’s recommendation of the project, has cited the area’s archaeological heritage and the risk of peat slippage as the main reasons for rejecting the plan.
The project, submitted by Western Power Developments, was approved last year by Galway County Council and involved 14 turbines, 140m (460ft) tall, within a kilometre of seven houses at Knockranny, overlooking the Galway-Clifden road. It also involved ancillary structures, including a control building, a permanent meteorological mast of up to 80m in height, a substation, access tracks and associated infrastructure across an area of almost 225sq m.
The planning approval was appealed by Peter Crossan, part-time farmer and former chair of the Irish Wind Energy Truth Alliance, and northeast GP Dr Kevin Deering. Knockranny residents who submitted an observation argued that the turbines would be double the height of the proposed national children’s hospital in Dublin, which An Bord Pleanála ruled against due to street height, among other reasons.
They argued that national guidelines on wind farms were out of date, as they were developed in 2006 when the average turbine height was in the 50m to 70m height range.
They stated that the development was close to the Connemara bog complex and in an area rich in archaeology, and that the project’s peat slippage analysis in its environmental impact statement was “flawed”.
The Knockranny residents pointed out that they were not opposed to renewable energy, and did not object to the 60-turbine wind farm recently approved for Cloosh valley in the Moycullen/Oughterard region.
In his objection, Mr Crossan claimed that the Knockranny project’s environmental impact assessment was potentially in breach of the European Court of Justice 2007 ruling on such assessments.
This related to a wind farm at Derrybrien, Co Galway, where the construction of a service road caused a major landslide on the blanket bog in 2003.
Western Power Developments did not respond when asked to comment on the objections. However, Galway County Council had ruled that the area was most suitable for a wind farm.
The inspector’s report on the appeal noted that there had been no local consultation by the developer.
The board’s final ruling says that the number and layout of wind turbines and locations of associated access roads for the project do not take account of the area’s archaeological landscape of post-medieval settlements and several prehistoric features.
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