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Over 300 objections to Whitehead wind turbine plan

Contentious plans to erect a large wind turbine along the Whitehead coast have been recommended for refusal, following a deluge of objections.

Whitehead Golf Club lodged an application for a 45.5m single turbine at McCrea’s Brae, a prominent site visible from Islandmagee, Whitehead and Ballycarry.

But the proposal has received a stormy reception from many local residents, garnering over 300 letters of objection.

One of the primary concerns raised by lobbyists was the potential that scenic views along the Islandmagee and Whitehead coastline would be blighted by the proposed development.

Other issues cited ranged from potential noise pollution and devaluation of neighbouring properties, to impact on wildlife such as bats and buzzards.

Back in February, the Planning Service had indicated it was minded to approve the application. However, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council – which has taken over decision-making powers on planning issues – is of the opinion that the proposal should not be progressed.

The application is to come before councillors at the meeting of the council’s planning committee on Thursday (August 6), with a recommendation for refusal on the grounds that the development could potentially have adverse impacts on “residential amenities of neighbouring dwellings”.

Peter Craig, a professional wind farm developer who lives on Cable Road in Whitehead, welcomed the u-turn by planners.

He told the Times: “I am glad the decision has been reversed. Many people throughout Whitehead and Islandmagee were completely unaware of these plans until a small group of objectors began raising awareness in the wider community.

“When people learned of the proposal and realised the impact a large turbine in that location would have on the landscape, they were horrified.

“As someone who works in the wind power industry, I am a big supporter of the need for renewable energy. But this particular development is inappropriately sited.

“It is not conducive to the character of the landscape and the development would have ramifications both environmentally and socially.”

Vice-captain of the club, Jeremy Jones acknowledged that the turbine plan had proven to be a divisive issue among some members of the golf club, adding: “There was always the risk that the development could alienate some golfers and result in the club losing a number members as a result.”

Jeremy, who is also chairman of Whitehead Community Association, said he had mixed emotions regarding the council’s recommendation to refuse the application.

“On the one hand I am disappointed, as this development represents a financial opportunity for the club to create a new revenue stream. However, as a lifelong resident of Whitehead I understand the concerns that have been raised,” he concluded.