Northern Ireland’s vital tourism industry could be hit because of a stampede in wind energy developments, it was claimed last night.
Campaigners argue that the landscape is being engulfed by giant turbines as the rush for renewable energy gathers pace.
Official figures supplied to Sunday Life show that since 2007 up to June of this year 1,898 planning applications were received for wind turbine/farms.
Decisions have already been made on 1,149 of those applications, with over 70 per-cent receiving approval.
The figures dwarf most other regions in the UK with the exception of areas of Scotland.
Opponents have warned that the spread of turbines is damaging the province’s natural beauty and threatening the Pounds 539 million-a- year tourist trade.
Critics, like Wind Watch chairman Dan Kane, are also concerned at the proliferation of speculative development proposals.
Some applications for turbines are in iconic landscapes like the Mournes, Tyrella beach, Coney Island, Killough Bay and even Slemish mountain or, as Dr Kane put it, “in locations which directly impact on tourism operations or activity.”
He believes one of the main issues is the rush to erect single wind turbines which “mysteriously seem to breed after they have been installed.”
Dr Kane went on: “They suddenly appear, there is no consultation and they are just waved through by civil servants.
“There are many other problems, property values, noise, health and safety, environmental as well as tourism…..but against that it’s a gold mine for the industry in taxpayer subsidies.”
Dr Kane added: “In Scotland, for instance, any turbine must be 2km from a dwelling, yet in Northern Ireland its 500 metres. Why?” The issues raised by campaigners are sure to put them on a collision course with Tourism Minister Arlene Foster and, not least, her government colleague and Environment Minister Alex Attwood.
According to Mr Attwood’s department he argues that renewables will lead to “self-sufficiency in electricity, create many jobs and add to the green appeal of Northern Ireland not least for tourist potential.”
(c) 2012 Belfast Telegraph. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.
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