An application to construct a new wind farm near Drumquin has been refused by planners.
The decision to refuse the bid to build ten 125 metre wind turbines on the mountain hillside was taken after a vote at last week’s Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Planning Committee.
Hertfordshire woman Doreen Walker, trading under Dooish Wind Farm Ltd, is behind the planning application. She has already launched an appeal of the decision.
The application for the proposed wind farm was originally set to be decided at December’s Planning Committee meeting.
Council planning officers had recommended refusing the application over concerns surrounding its visual impact on the landscape and breaches of noise limits.
Planners also said the location of the development would interfere with the communications network.
However the application sparked some debate, with the result that it was taken to a pre-determination hearing on January 12.
Despite submissions from Ms Walker and a number of other speakers, councillors backed the planning officer’s recommendation by 7-4 last Wednesday (January 20).
It’s understood that a number of councillors had cited the fact that no local objections had been made to the application.
The report presented to the committee revealed that six properties are exposed to noise levels above the 37.5 decibel limit.
It emerged that the owners of five of the properties are linked to the application, or are in support of it, with the sixth property belonging to the Forestry Service.
Some councillors had argued that the property could not be considered residential.
The report said the wind farm would have “an unacceptable adverse impact on residential amenity of sensitive receptors through visual dominance, noise and shadow flicker by reasons of proximity from the proposed turbines”.
Planners also described the potential visual impact of the hill side wind farm near Drumquin was “unacceptable”.
The report stated, “There would be detrimental impact upon the landscape and character of the area as a result of the cumulative impact and intervisibility between turbines on the proposed site and existing wind farms.”
Nearby wind farms include those at Bin Mountain, Castlecraig, Thornog, Tappaghan, Pigeon Top and Pollnalaght.
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board also aired some concerns.
“Added to the existing impact of wind farms, it is NITB’s view that the potential propagation of wind farms will result in a changed perception of the area and a probable reduction in the tourist appeal of this area of Co Tyrone.”
Chief among the concerns of planners, was that the ten turbines near Drumquin would remove an important visual break.
According to last week’s report, that would result “in a commercial wind farm dominated landscape, stripping the area of all attractiveness, which is the area’s primary asset on attracting visitors”.
Infilling of this gap say planners would have a long lasting detrimental effect.
A third area which concerned planners surrounds the potential impact on the communications network.
A report to the Planning Committee said if permitted, the wind farm would cause “an unacceptable degree of electro-magnetic interference with communications by reason of its location”.
The report also concluded that Northern Ireland remains well on course to achieving its 2020 renewable energy targets, stating, “It is not imperative that every wind farm scheme is approved to achieve this target.”
On Friday, Dooish Wind Farm Ltd launched an appeal with the Planning Appeals Commission.