Local residents welcome the decision of the Council to refuse permission to increase the height of two wind turbines on Crockbrack Hill, near Kinnagoe Bay, by 24% to an overall tip height of 132 meters.
The Council’s refusal is based on a new national tourist development called the Wild Atlantic Way. The road passing Crockbrack Hill is now identified as a Scenic Driving Section, a fundamental element of the route, providing the visitor with opportunities to see and experience the best land and seascapes along the route. Kinnagoe Bay is a Discovery Point, the third point on the Wild Atlantic Way when you start the route from Derry and the North. Kinnagoe Bay was selected on the basis that it provides an exceptional Wild Atlantic experience.
“One of the great joys of living here is the wild, unspoilt countryside and coastline. It is great that this new tourist route is now happening. It is the longest one in the world! People will come to see the wildness of it all. That is why it is called the Wild Atlantic Way not the Industrialised Atlantic Way,” said a local resident.
Now that the roads around Kinnagoe Bay have a special status as part of the Wild Atlantic Way, the Council’s Tourism policy of ‘not permitting development proposals which would detract from the visual quality/amenity on either the approach roads to, or the views to be had from significant tourist attractions (TOU-P-3)’ becomes more urgent.
“It is the natural progression now for the areas on either side of the Wild Atlantic Way to become areas ‘not open for consideration’ for wind farms. We are talking to our local Councillors to start this Variation Process immediately in relation to the rest of Crockbrack Hill. The Wild Atlantic Way is a multi-million Euro, international investment seeking to get tourists to Ireland. We need to protect the route so that they see Ireland at her best,” said a local resident.
Refusal to Grant Permission
As the DCC states in the Managers Order 2014PH0328, PA 1450014, dated 6th of March 2014, the DCC decided to Refuse to Grant Permission in the case of application 14/50014. The DCC two reasons for refusal of the above mentioned application are as follows:
1. The subject site is located in a sensitive rural location and coastal environment, which is open and unenclosed, and the proposed turbines are located on a locally prominent peak within same. It is an objective of the County Development Plan 2012-2018(as varied) “To ensure that wind energy developments meet the requirements and standards set out in the DEHLG Wind Energy Guidelines 2006, or any subsequent related guidelines (or as may be amended)” – (Objective E-O-5 refers) and it is a policy of the said Plan “that development proposals for wind energy shall be in accordance with the requirements of the Wind Energy Development Guidelines; Guidelines for Planning Authorities, 2006 (or as may be amended)” – (Policy E-P-9 refers). It is considered that the proposed increase to the height of the permitted turbines is both adversely material and significant, and would if permitted by reason of excessive height and scale constitute a discordant physical development which is visually unbalanced within the receiving environment and which would result in the inappropriate spatial dominance of the host environment and locally elevated landscape within which the proposal is situate. Accordingly it is considered that to permit the development would be contrary to the key guidance on the height of turbines as set out in Section 6.8 and 6.9.1 of the Wind Energy Guidelines, 2006. Therefore to permit the proposed development would be contrary the aforementioned objective and policy of the County Development Plan 2012-2018 (as varied) and to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
2. The subject site is located within a sensitive coastal environment and in proximity to an identified ‘discovery point’ (Kinnagoe Bay) on the Wild Atlantic Way and at a location which occupies a prominent position on the skyline on approach to the said ‘discovery point’ from the public road network to the east, which is identified in the Wild Atlantic Way as a ‘Scenic Driving Section’. It is a policy of the County Development Plan, 2012-2018 (as varied) “not to permit development proposals which would detract from the visual quality/amenity on either the approach roads to, or the views to be had from significant tourist attractions” – Policy TOU-P-3 refers. The identification of ‘scenic driving sections’ is a fundamental element of the Wild Atlantic Way and they are selected to ‘provide the visitor with opportunities to see and experience the best land and seascapes along the route spine’ and ‘discovery points’ are selected on the basis that they ‘provide an exceptional Wild Atlantic experience’ and ‘relate directly to the coast and posses an immediate thematic relevance to the overall brand and essence of the project’. It is considered that the Wild Atlantic Way is a significant tourist attraction and it is considered that the proposed development, by reason of visual unbalance and spatial dominance of the host coastal environment within which the proposal is situate and as evidenced by refusal reason No.1, would be injurious to and visually detract from the amenity of an identified ‘discovery point’ on The Wild Atlantic Way.
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