The debate on the potential for a wind farm in the Dublin mountains seems set to be reopened with the pending sale of 4,900 acres (1,983 hectares) along the Dublin-Wicklow border.
The land sale, easily the largest to have come on the open market in recent years, will be handled by agents CBRE on behalf of Nama who are selling the land as part of the distressed assets held by the late Liam Maye, one of the developers of Dundrum Town Centre.
Robert Colleran of CBRE is to guide in the region of €2.5 million for the extensive holding which mainly straddles the Dublin-Wicklow border within 15 km of Dublin city centre and 3km south of Tallaght.
Any attempt to put a wind farm on the site is likely to be resisted by conservation groups, trekkers and residents of the city and county.
The land is predominantly undeveloped and classified as moorland and mountain land though there are some small plots in low lying areas at the bottom of the Glenasmole Valley. The highest point is at Kippure Mountain and the overall land bank within seven different townlands includes three watercourses which flow into the Bohernabreena Reservoirs. The Dodder emerges and heads towards Dublin before merging with the Liffey.
CBRE acknowledges that the development potential is “very limited” on the Glenasmole lands and is confined to 39.5 acres in the lower regions. It also suggests that 178 acres in the upper lands have “some development potential” but stresses this would be of limited use and subject to the strict planning guidelines of South Dublin County Council. At the asking price, the likely development area would work out at around €23,000 per acre.
In a planning appraisal on the land bank going for sale, Hughes Planning & Development Consultants have advised that lands which fell within the Wicklow Mountains Special Area of Conservation and which were above a contour of 350 metres had no effective development potential. This would include any prospective wind energy development as a result of likely visual impacts on the area. The study estimated that more than 93 per cent of the total land holding fell within this category.
It also suggested a further 12 hectares at Glassavullaun had “limited potential for development” with any development being linked to tourism/ natural resources and related uses. Any development of a further 4 hectares in Piperstown would be constrained by a sloped terrain and the council’s rural development policy.
The Hughes report also suggested another 72 hectares at Piperstown outside the Special Area of Conservation but above the 350 metres contour may have potential for future wind energy development. However, it said such a proposal was heavily constrained by current and draft development plan policy, specifically noting the council’s Landscape Character Assessment for the area. “Any planning application for wind farm energy development on the land holding at Piperstown would be potentially subject to Environmental Impact Assessment.”
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