The firm behind a controversial plan to build a huge wind farm on Benevenagh mountain have announced they are scaling back their proposals.
The firm’s chief executive said they have listened to concerns about the potential impact on the iconic landscape and have decided to scale back their wind farm proposals.
A firm known as Windyfields had lodged an application for planning permission to build wind 21 wind turbines with each measuring over 100 metres tall – around a third of the height of the mountain itself. The plans have now been downsized to 16 turbines, which Windyfields chief executive Jeff Potter says will mean they won’t be “that visible” from Benone. Strand.
Concerns had been raised previously that the wind farm would overshadow the famous view of Benevenagh with the Mussenden Temple perched at the cliff edge. The firm are proposing that rather than the original plan for 21 turbines, the wind farm will now be reduced to just 16. They have also announced a range of measures designed to allay concerns about the controversial proposals. These include the development of a new tourism and education centre at Ballyackett, between Limavady and Coleraine. Other measures announced by Windyfields include a plan to divert £5,000 worth of funding to the local community for every megawatt of electricity.
The original plans were for 21 wind turbines at an area on Benevenagh mountain between Coleraine and Limavady called Ballyhackett. The plan to build the turbines, which at over 100 metres would be amongst the tallest structures anywhere in Ireland, drew criticism from local businesses, public bodies and a dedicated campaign group.
Amongst the primary concerns raised was the potential visual impact of the windfarm on what is an officially designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a key destination for Northern Ireland’s tourist industry.
Those concerns were raised by both local businesses concerned about the impact on tourism, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the National Trust – which maintains nearby attractions such as the Mussenden Temple.
Now, though, the firm say they have listened to those concerns and have modified their plans accordingly.
Jeff Potter, the CEO of the firm behind the plans – known as Windyfields – said the wind farm will be “not that visible” from key locations such as Benone: “After liaising with many local people we felt it was necessary to address issues that were raised with us. We know that visual impact was an issue for some and we decided to remove five of the proposed turbines and redesign our proposed layout. We believe this will ensure the turbines are not overly visible from key locations including Benone Strand.”
The firm say they will also be submitting a planning application for the development of what they describe as a state-of-the-art tourism and education facility at Ballyhackett.
Windyfields plans to submit a planning application for a 2,800sq foot centre that will be developed to serve local community, business, education and social groups as well as providing an learning and tourism facility for school and college visits. Local company Montgomery Irwin Architects Ltd, based in Coleraine have been commissioned to develop the proposals for the £600,000 tourism and education project.
Windyfields CEO Jeff Potter said: “We also listened carefully to what people had to say about the lack of facilities for tourists in the area. Windyfields is committed to being a good neighbour and we believe this is an area in which we can make a positive contribution.
“Not only are we planning to develop a facility that can be used by local and community related groups but we also plan to have catering and viewing facilities that will help attract and provide for tourists to the area.
“The proposed centre will also facilitate the development of recreational facilities for jogging, cycling and sightseeing. We are aware that people would like greater access to the area and we are proposing to help open up the area by linking two walking paths through the site and making this a hub for outdoor activity for everyone.
“This facility will provide the opportunity to educate both local and visiting school pupils about renewable energy. We have spoken to teachers, parents and pupils that want to learn more about how the turbines work and how this links to everyday life.”
Windyfields has also announced they are to contribute £5,000 per megawatt for community funds that could deliver upwards of £250,000 per annum for the area.
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