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Windfarm on top of Benbradagh?

A windfarm may be built on top of Benbradagh – according to a local campaigner opposed to wind farms in the Roe Valley.

A corporation known as ABO Wind NI have had planning permission granted to erect an 80m mast on top of Benbradagh mountain, designed to measure wind speed. Carlo McCloskey, Chairman of the Roe Valley Anti Wind Farm Association, believes this could lead to a wind farm being built on top of Benbradagh.

Mr McCloskey said: “We know where that is going to be heading – a wind farm on Benbradagh. Right on the top of the mountain, could you imagine that?”

This follows the news in last week’s Sentinel that a Dublin company, Gaelectric, had announced their success in gaining full planning permission to construct a wind farm at Smulgedon, near Dungiven.

Carlo McCloskey, who has previously complained that the Roe Valley was becoming “encircled” with wind turbines, believes the tourist potential of the Limavady Borough is being destroyed by the proliferation of wind farms.

He said: “If they were to build a wind farm on the top of Benbradagh, who would be happy with that? It would totally destroy any tourist potential the area has.

“Right now, to use just one example, Benbradagh is a popular location for hang-gliding. Who would go hang-gliding if there were huge wind turbines there? That’s one aspect of tourism that would be knocked on the head straight away.

“The council would need to be addressed about the problems associated with these things. The only thing we have left in Limavady is tourism. Why would tourists come to this part of the country to look at the beautiful landscape if they are covered in wind farms?

“Who would come to the Limavady Borough to look at wind farms everywhere? Where they talking recently about putting a wind farm in at Benevenagh, which is already designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?”

A planning application is thought to be “imminent” for an area in Myroe, overlooked by Benevenagh. A public consultation meeting was held in March of this year, where Cork based firm Myroe Wind Farm Ltd outlined their plans for the area.

The plans set out at that meeting included the construction of a series of 120m turbines near the coast of the Foyle at Myroe. A campaign group has already been set up to oppose the plans, although the company have yet to submit an application to the planning service.

This attracted the attention of the Northern Ireland Birdwatchers Association, who posted some of the information to their website. One of the website’s users wrote: “The Foyle cannot be polluted by these unsightly wind turbines, this area is home to an abundance of wildlife, including the native hares, these need protected, along with all the winter migratory birds which make this area their home. It is also the home to a few little egrets – these birds are not in big supply and need protected.”

Aside from the environmental concerns highlighted on the Northern Ireland Birdwatchers Association website, Carlo McCloskey believes there are a host of other considerations.

He said: “I recently read an report, Wind Turbines in Proximity to Homes, published quite recently with authors from the University of Minnesota and the University of Manchester. There is page after page of concerns about health, taken from all over the world. This is all being glossed over by big corporations.”

He added: “I was also reading about people in England whose houses were being devalued because wind farms were built close to them. They applied for a reduction in council tax because of the reduction in value. People were having their council tax reduced. It would be interesting to see what would happen if someone brought a case like that to the Limavady Council.”