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Opposition continues as planning for wind farm to be lodged

Locals have expressed opposition to revised plans for a proposed wind farm at Kilranelagh near Baltinglass.

ABO Wind Ireland Ltd said it intends to apply to Wicklow County Council for planning permission in the next month to construct a proposed five turbine wind farm at Kilranelagh Hill.

The company’s plan for the wind farm has faced local opposition since it was announced in January. Many of the concerns have centred around the possible impact of the development on the archaeology of the area. Kilranelagh Hill and surrounding lands contain many archaeological features, including the Boleycarrigeen stone circle, cairns, an ogham stone and a number of ringforts.

Paul Carberry of the West Wicklow Wind Action Group (WWWAG) said: ‘there is huge local opposition. It’s almost international as a number of leading archaeologists in Ireland have voiced their concerns about the proposed location of the wind farm’.

Kilranelagh is part of the Baltinglass Hillfort cluster and archaeological investigations of the area have identified Neolithic and pre-Christian features.

Mr Carberry said many locals believe the the site ‘could drive the whole economy’ of west Wicklow by attracting tourists to visit a site whose archaeology ‘is more important than Glendalough’.

When it revealed its plans in January, ABO Wind Ireland Ltd said the site provisionally had space to accommodate up to nine turbines, however, it recently indicated that the planned number of turbines had been reduced to five turbines of up to 165m in height. They also propose an underground cable will follow a 6.5km route along public roads to connect the wind farm to the substation in Stratford-on-Slaney.

In a project newsletter seen by this paper, ABO Wind Ireland Ltd said the site layout had been changed to respond to feedback about the potential impact of noise and shadow flicker from the turbines on the neighbouring properties. It also said further changes to the site plans were made to respond to concerns about the potential impact on the archaeology of the site.

However, Mr Carberry said locals feel the archaeology of the site makes it unsuitable as a location for a windfarm.

‘It’s not possible to mitigate or move turbines on this site because of its significance,’ Mr Carberry said, adding locals would like to see the site and its archaeology protected.

The proposed site is currently being used for commercial forestry and it is likely that this would continue if the wind farm received the green light.