Planning permission to build the biggest windfarm in Ireland along the border at Castlederg have been blown away.
The Carrickaduff windfarm was expected to cost in the region of €200 million and Cork-based developers Planree Ltd proposed to site 49 wind turbines, running along the Tyrone/Donegal border.
A decision from An Bord Pleanála on the Carrickaduff development was due last October but has been subject to repeated delays. A final decision to refuse has now been published.
Speaking to the Strabane Chronicle Marie Scanlon, who was involved in an action group opposed to the plans, welcomed the decision and said it was fantastic news.
“This is absolutely brilliant news. The decision to refuse 49 huge wind turbines is long overdue. The application was first submitted to An Bord Pleanala last March.
“There is no doubt that this was a tough campaign and it has been very difficult for the group and for the community.
“From the very start we were constantly told that we would never fight this, that we should let it go, even by local politicians. Our response was that we planned to look at all our options and see what we could do.”
The action group consisted of about 15 members who only had six weeks to prepare a submission for their appeal to An Bord Pleanala.
Their concerns were many but focused on the proximity of the huge 156.5 metre turbines to homes. The nearest home would have been just 300 metres from the closest turbine.
Ms Scanlon added, “Our other concerns included the scale of the turbines, the noise impact and shadow flicker as well as the environmental impact.
“Huge numbers of trees would have had to be cut down and bogs excavated to make way for 4,000 loads of concrete.”
She said that An Bord Pleanala’s refusal for the development sends a “very clear message” to prospective developers looking to site windfarms along the Tyrone/Donegal border.
The cost of determining the application for Carrickaduff windfarm was €113,855 and required more than 435 hours of inspectors’ time.
The direction from the board said that in coming to the decision, a number of factors were considered, including the location of the proposed development which although in an area deemed open for consideration for wind developments, was in close proximity to especially high scenic areas and a number of protected areas.
The board also noted that nature of the site which was mostly comprised of bog forestry and multiple watercourses.
The planning authority said they felt the Environmental Impact Statement submitted was inadequate and did not enable a comprehensive assessment of the potential impact of the proposed development to be undertaken on populations of birds.
The board also cited the failure to survey water bodies outside the survey area but within a 15km buffer zone, which may be utilised by bird species such as the whooper swan and Greenland fronted goose in order to identify any potential flights and paths between these water bodies.
The Board also said it is not satisfied that the development as proposed “would not have a significant adverse effect on the ecological environment”, and “would not adversely affect the integrity of certain European Sites in view of those sites’ conservation objectives”.
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