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Coleraine wind farm plan in jeopardy on conservation and health grounds

Planners have shot down a bid to erect five large wind turbines on the outskirts of Coleraine.

North Power Croaghan Ltd has been attempting to build the wind farm in Macosquin since 2011.

However, officials at Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council rejected the latest bid.

The decision, due to go before councillors on August 22, was revealed in a report released ahead of next week’s planning committee meeting.

The company behind the proposal had originally applied to build five 120-metre turbines on grazing pastures used by livestock in Croaghan, around seven miles south west of Coleraine.

One of the turbines would have been installed within forestry lands, falling within the Bienvenagh area of outstanding natural beauty.

The site is next to a quarry owned by Northstone, with solar panels in operation in the area.

The plan was later amended, reducing the size to just under 100 metres. However, planners have still deemed the proposal “unacceptable” in the location.

“Refusal is recommended due to the potential adverse impact on safety, human health, residential amenity, biodiversity, and nature conversation,” says the report.

Alongside the five turbines, the application had sought permission for an on-site control buildings and sub system, new and upgraded access tracks, underground electrical cabling and a permanent 80-metre meteorological mast.

North Power Croaghan Ltd said each turbine could have generated up to 2.3mw of power.

Among the objecters was Croaghan Quarry. Its owners argued that permission could “sterilise future mineral reserves and would be incompatible to the existing use as a quarry where blasting is carried out”, adding that such a scenario could require compensation.

Among the nine reasons offered for refusing the application, planning officials said the development had not demonstrated that it wouldn’t give rise to “unacceptable adverse impact on public safety” due to the proximity of homes to the area.

It also said the applicants had failed to demonstrate that its plan wouldn’t impact habitats, species or features of natural heritage. It concluded the turbines would likely result in loss and damage to purple moorgrass and rush pasture and impact protected species of bats and hen harriers.