Permission has been granted for a large windfarm on the Cork-Limerick border which will be run by ESB Wind Development.
An Bord Pleanála has given the green light for the company to build 14 turbines, each 126m, on Coillte-owned land in the Ballyhoura Mountains, north of Doneraile.
Despite some objections, the appeals board inspector, Bríd Maxwell, decided that building the 14 turbines would not adversely affect the landscape, or seriously affect the visual or residential amenities of the area.
Ms Maxwell said she could not see the development giving rise to any significant impacts on the natural heritage of the area, or affect any protected species known to inhabit the 4,400 hectares of land on which the turbines would be built.
Limerick County Council wanted a blanket ban on all windfarm development in Ballyhoura Mountains.
However, this was rejected by Cork County Council which decided to grant permission, subject to 55 conditions.
Ballyhoura Development also welcomed the move.
When permission was granted, 17 local residents lodged objections with An Bord Pleanála. They expressed concern that the wind turbines would increase noise and traffic in the area and have an effect on flora and fauna, particularly hen harriers which are known to inhabit the area.
It is estimated that around 20 pairs of the birds of prey live in the mountains and there have been sightings of a pair of peregrine falcons.
The inspector said the proposed development is in accordance with national and EU policies which seek to promote the reduction of greenhouse gases and the advancement of renewable energy resources.
“On the basis of the assessment, I consider that the proposed development can be accommodated in the landscape and will not have a significant detrimental visual impact,” Ms Maxwell said.
However, she imposed more than 20 conditions, one of which included that permission shall be for a period of 25 years from the date of commissioning of the windfarm.
Ms Maxwell also ordered that the developer facilitate the preservation, recording and protection of archaeological materials or features that may exist within the site, and employ mitigation measures to ensure birds of prey were not interfered with.
She added that where possible, construction works should be undertaken outside their breeding season.
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