A row has broken out at Mid-Ulster Council after its Planning Committee approved plans to erect TWO wind turbines in Cookstown, one of which overlooks the Beaghmore Stone Circles tourism site.
The approved wind turbines are to be located at 270m north of an address at Beaghbeg Road in Cookstown and 350m north of an address at Ballynagilly Lane in the town.
Prior to the discussion during the Committee meeting, Sinn Fein’s Cllr Sean Clarke declared an interest in both applications and requested to speak on the applications, while Cllr Sharon McAleer of the SDLP declared an interest in the Beaghbeg Road application and left the room.
Cllr Clarke told the Committee that he had been at the site meetings for both applications and that both would be located on sites within the Sperrins area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
In relation to the Ballynagilly Lane application, he said that he felt it would have “a massive detrimental impact in the area,” adding there were a “substantial number of objectors to this application with concerns related to health and noise”.
He added that, in relation to the Beaghbeg Road application, that it would be within an area of archaeological significance as the turbine will overlook Beaghmore Stone Circles, adding that there were numerous objections to this application.
Cllr Clarke’s party colleague, Cllr Cathal Mallaghan, backed by Cllr Gavin Bell, called for the refusal of the Ballynagilly Lane application, saying it would be would be a visual intrusion on the amenity of the area which is within an AONB.
He referred to the astronomical value of the Sperrins as having the darkest sky and also commented that the turbines would only be of benefit to individual parties.
The Council’s Head of Development Management, Melvin Bowman, referred to consultations with the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency (NIEA) and advised that a refusal could only be made on the grounds of visual impact.
Meanwhile, a counter proposal to approve the Ballynagilly Lane application was made by Cllr Clement Cuthbertson (DUP) and seconded by Cllr Glasgow.
After discussion, members voted 7-6 to reject Cllr Mallaghan’s proposal to refuse the Ballynagilly Lane application and it was therefore resolved that the application should be approved subject to conditions as per the officer’s report.
A further vote was then taken on Cllr Wills Robinson’s proposal to approve the Beaghbeg Road application, which was passed by seven votes to six.
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