An Bord Pleanála (ABP) have given the green light for three wind farms comprising 20 wind turbines located near Claremorris, which could have the potential to power 20 percent of homes in Mayo.
PWWP Developments Limited were given planning permission for three separate applications to develop wind farms located north of Claremorris despite a number of objectors including Knock Shrine.
The Cork-based development company were granted planning permission in October 2014 by Mayo County Council for a wind farm consisting of seven wind turbines located in the townlands of Magheramore and Cregganbrack, Bekan, Claremorris.
The site is located between 6km and 8km north-east of Claremorris and 3km south and south-east of Knock and covers an area of approximately 424 hectares.
The applicant has also been granted permission for two similar sized farms consisting of six and seven turbines at sites located 2km and 5km south of the first site.
The reports in the application anticipated that the wind turbines could produce sufficient electricity for approximately 8,800 households or approximately 20 percent of the house holds in Mayo.
All three of the developments were subject to multiple third party appeals against the development and the applications were inspected by An Bord Pleanála.
In March 2015, Senior Planning Inspector, Robert Ryan, recommended refusal in all three appeals on the basis the applications did not include details of the proposed connection to the national grid and thus a cumulative impact of the likely environmental impacts had not been adequately assessed.
However, in June 2015, the board of ABP decided to defer defer a decision on the application in order to seek further information. When the applicant submitted a further application, the board appointed a new inspector in May 2016 to prepare a full report.
A number of appeals were lodged with ABP which included an appeal on behalf of Our Lady’s Shrine in Knock. The Shrine stated that they have facilities which offer pilgrims ‘quiet spiritual reflection and prayer and healing’ and they felt the ‘facilities will be greatly impacted upon with the provision of noisy and excessively large turbine structures’.
There were also concerns submitted by others regarding the impact to the environment.
In his report, senior inspector Paul Caprani stated that the turbines are located 2.5km from the Basilica and did not consider that the wind farm will ‘unduly impact on the ambience of the area’.
He added that it would be reasonable to conclude that the landscape on which the proposed wind farm is to be located is deemed to be one of the more suitable landscape types within the county to accommodate such development.
Mr Caprani recommended the application be granted permission and his conclusion was accepted by the board subject to 17 conditions. The other two applications which were also under appeal were also granted planning permission with conditions.
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