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Planning for windfarm refused for a second time

Waterford Council has refused planning permission for a windfarm near the Comeragh Mountains for the second time in four years.

In an amended application, Kilkenny-based Ecopower Developments Ltd had applied to build eight wind turbines, with a height not exceeding 127m, at Ballymacarbry on the western fringe of the mountains.

The site, on a forest ridge, is close to the Tipperary border and about 5km from Clonmel. The council said it was “not satisfied that the development would not significantly compromise the policy to develop the Comeragh area as a national amenity” and feared the visual impact on tourism.

The decision came despite the area being designated a preferred location for wind energy under the Waterford County Development Plan 2007 to 2011.

The company is to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanála. The local authority refused the initial application for nine turbines on similar grounds in 2011.

An Bord Pleanála subsequently upheld the refusal on the grounds of inadequate assessments relating to water quality, drainage, transportation, road improvements, architecture, heritage, and bird species.

However the board disagreed with the council’s appraisal that the development “would clearly impact on the character, integrity, and uniformity of the landscape of the area when viewed form the surroundings”.

Ecopower Developments project manager Philomena Kenealy said the company is “very disappointed” with the latest decision”, adding:

“We consider it a very suitable site because of elevation and the separation distance, with the nearest turbine 884m from the nearest house. We feel it can be developed without any negative effect on nearest residents or on the receiving environment.”