Concerns have been raised about the impact of a proposed south Donegal wind farm on the breeding grounds of a protected bird.
A decision on the proposed seven-turbine wind farm at the Behy Mountain area of Cashelard near Ballyshannon is due next month, almost a year after the application was lodged.
Objections have been received from locals concerned about the impact of the proposed wind farm on homes, health and the beauty of the area.
Behy Renewable Energy Ltd has applied for planning permission for the wind farm on townlands at Behy, Cashelard, Tullyhorky, and Doobally. If granted planning permission the turbines, with tip heights of up to 150 metres, will be among the highest in Donegal.
The proposed wind farm could have tip heights as much as 20m more than the Acres wind farm near Ballyshannon which were granted planning with a maximum tip height of 130m.
The tallest wind turbines in the country are at Meenwaun Wind Farm in Offaly with tip heights of 169m.
The tallest wind turbines granted planning permission in the county have a tip height of 156.5m and were given the go-ahead at a site in the townlands of Meenbog, Croaghonagh, and Cashelnavean near Barnesmore.
An Taisce has expressed concerns about the potential impact of the development on the hen harrier, a protected species.
In a detailed submission to the application, An Taisce said the hen harrier is the subject of a species-threat response plan due to declining numbers in Ireland and the UK. A 2015 study confirmed that hen harriers were breeding in the area.
The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said that the development has no “significant direct or indirect impacts” on Natura 2000 sites -the network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species – and protected wildlife species and habitats.
However, the department has also expressed concerns about the impact of the proposed wind farm on the breeding area of the hen harrier.
Thirteen submissions on the development have been lodged, the majority of which have expressed concern about the potential impact of the wind farm.
Four submissions have backed the development and highlighted the need for renewable energy.
The objections include the proximity of the wind farm to homes, the potential health risks and impacts caused by noise and shadow flicker, the potential impact on quality of life, the devaluation of property, the potential visual impact on Ballyshannon as a heritage town and the surrounding area and concerns about the effect on tourism in the area.
The planned wind farm is close to where planning permission has been granted for the five-turbine Derrykillew wind farm.
Donegal County Council initially turned down planning permission for the Derrykillew project in 2015 put planning was granted on appeal to An Bord Pleanála.
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