A newly constructed wind turbine near Monea has been described as “incredibly intrusive” by a man who lives across the Lough at Killadeas.
Retiree John Wilson spotted the new turbine last Tuesday on the far side of Lough Erne. He has criticised the structure, stating: “You don’t get consulted on a turbine unless you live near it. I never thought anyone would be so crude to put one just across the lake.”
He called for it to be removed, adding: “This is a public disgrace. The planners and local politicians who approved this development have clearly made a serious mistake or, worse still, care nothing for the impact on the landscape by this most visually intrusive structure.”
Mr. Wilson believes the turbine is “an eyesore.” He continued: “It’s incredibly intrusive. It’s right on the sky line. There’s an island opposite me and you can see the turbine over the top of the island. You can see it from the road at Castle Archdale. Other wind turbine developments, for example at Lack and Garrison, are a bit back [from the top of the hill] but this one is incredibly blatant.”
He wrote to the 40 local Councillors over Christmas, voicing his concern at the development. “I haven’t heard anything back as yet and I haven’t been speaking to any of my neighbours over Christmas to see what they think,” said Mr. Wilson.
Mr. Wilson is familiar with the term NIMBY – Not In My Backyard – a term often used by developers to describe opposition by residents to a proposal for a new development. “I’m well aware of that term and yes, it does apply to me,” Mr. Wilson stated. “It’s OK for developers who are going to make vast amounts of money to say it’s NIMBYism but the visual amenity of the lake should be a priority. This is a problem for anyone who can see that structure. It should be removed but it probably won’t.”
In reference to wind turbine development, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s (FODC) new Local Development Plan (LDP) proposes “the introduction of a stricter policy to protect sensitive landscapes – e.g. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, areas of high scenic value, and certain views or vistas – from wind energy developments.”
The LDP highlights that there are currently 496 single wind turbines and 32 wind farms in the district. It outlines that, from 2002 to 2015, 31 per cent of all wind farm applications approved in Northern Ireland were in the FODC area. Single wind turbine approvals in the FODC area account for 16 per cent of applications for all types of renewable energy approved in Northern Ireland, with all renewable energy approvals in the FODC area accounting for 20 per cent of NI renewable approvals; the highest of all 11 Council areas.
The LDP states: “It is clear that the FODC area is already contributing significantly to renewable energy particularly through wind power. Whilst the Council recognises the wider benefits of renewable energy, this should not compromise environmental assets of acknowledged importance. Areas considered sensitive to wind energy developments include: the shores and islands of upper and lower Lough Erne, the shores and islands of upper and lower Lough MacNean and the shores and islands of Lough Melvin; Cuilcagh Mountain; Areas of Scenic Quality e.g. Derrin Mountain, Colebrooke Estate and Bessy Bell; the escarpments and prominent ridges overlooking the Clogher Valley Lowlands and Historic Parks, Gardens and Demesnes.”
NIEA’s Wind Energy Development in Northern Ireland’s Landscapes: Supplementary Planning Guidance (2010) which accompanies PPS 18, has designated Cullen Hill, Monea (where the turbine is situated) as having high to medium sensitivity to wind energy development.
The document’s assessment of the area for Wind Energy Development states that the “undulating landform and overgrown hedgerows provide a sense of enclosure and potential screening for wind energy development, at least in parts.” It adds: “The most appropriate areas for wind energy development would be within the drumlin belt or forests, although the forests are generally limited in size and a temporary feature. Drumlin skylines are particularly sensitive and care would have to be taken when assessing the number of turbines that could be accommodated in the local landscape. Consideration could be given to siting turbines on drumlin slopes rather than drumlin tops.”
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, which is responsible for determining the vast majority of planning applications in the district, was not available for comment at the time of going to press.