The Planning Service would have rejected controversial plans for a windfarm in Binevenagh AONB had the decision not been taken out of their hands. As revealed by the Chronicle last week, the proposal to build 16 turbines (reduced from 21) over 100m in height along a four km stretch of ridgeline over looking the north coast is now in the hands of the independent Planning Appeals Commission.
The move came as a result of the department ‘s failure to consider the scheme’s environmental impact within a statutory time limit.
This week however, officials have published draft reasons for refusing the windfarm, which will form part of the department’s submission to the PAC.
Among their reasons were:
* The windfarm would have an unacceptable visual impact on Binevenagh AONB.
* Concerns over noise and the turbines affect on nearby residents.
* Adverse affect on Magilligan Special Area of Conservation.
* Potential harm to biodiversity, including protected bats, and unacceptably impact on rare blanket bogs, peatland, wet heathland and watercourses.
* A view the windfarm was not sympathetic to the character of the AONB
* Their submission concludes: ” (The) development would, if permitted, be harmful to the visual appeal and amenity value of local tourism assets located within Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and significantly impact on its tourism value.”
The windfarm’s developer, Arc NI 1 Ltd, a subsiduary of international green energy firm, Windyfields, says the development will pump £20m into the local economy, provide enough green energy to power thousands of homes, saving 68,914 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
But the windfarm proposals has prompted concern from many residents living nearby, the National Trust, the Irish Society and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
A spokesman for the Binevenagh SOS campaign said: “This documents sets out clearly the devastating impacts the proposed wind farm would have on Binevenagh AONB for local residents and visitors, wildlife, the environment, and the tourism industry alike.
“The Binevenagh SOS campaign trusts the Planning Appeals Commission will agree with Planning Department’s conclusion and overwhelming public opinion against the wind farm, and throw out the application.”
A spokesman for Windyfields said they were happy to let the PAC address all the concerns raised by planners.
And the PAC has already over-ruled planners on two nearby windfarm developments.
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