An Bord Pleanala has refused planning permission for an “industrial scale” €200m wind farm on Clare’s Atlantic coast that divided families in the village of Doonbeg.
At the end of a two-year planning battle, the appeals board threw out West Coastal Windpower Ltd’s 45-turbine plan on a number of grounds and those opposed to the plan found an unlikely ally in their opposition – the critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel.
However, the board’s decision to refuse planning for the 400ft turbines – more than twice the height of Liberty Hall – means that 79 landowners in the area will miss out on a significant, but unspecified, dividend through land lease deals entered into with the firm.
Jackie Whelan of the nearby West Coast Railway tourist attraction opposed the windfarm and he said yesterday that the plan “has split the whole community in Doonbeg”.
One of the grounds of refusal was the pollution threat the windfarm posed to Doonbeg river that contains 5,000 freshwater pearl mussels – the highest concentration of the species in Co Clare.
At a six-day oral hearing into the windfarm in April, the country’s foremost authority on the mussel, Dr Evelyn Moorkens, said that if nothing was done to secure the future of the mussel in the river, the species would become extinct there over time.
The developers have now been left with a hefty bill. The firm has paid An Bord Pleanala €76,456 to process the application and must now pay third parties an additional €9,978 as directed by the appeals board.
Failte Ireland, along with tourism interests in the area, including the Greg Norman-designed Doonbeg golf links resort, also expressed their opposition.
A spokesman for West Clare Coastal Windpower Ltd did not return call for comment.
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