Internet giant Amazon is staying tight lipped after construction was suspended at a windfarm it is invested in, following a landslide.
A peat slippage at Meenbog on the Donegal-Tyrone border has polluted rivers in both NI and the Republic leaving angling groups and fishermen seriously concerned about a mass fishkill.
Ulster Angling Federation said in a statement: “182 acres of Sitka trees had been felled to build the turbines.
“To date there has been losses of fish at a fish farm on the Mournebeg and one salmon mortality. The pollution has made its way to the Derg River which is black in colour with suspended peat pollution so no dead fish can be counted until levels drop and water clears.
“It is likely that the Mournebeg will have a complete fish kill.”
It was widely reported last year that Silicon Valley juggernaut Amazon had committed to buying the energy from the completed 91.2MW Meenbog 19-turbine windfarm for Amazon Web Services.
But when asked for a comment about the incident, Amazon directed us towards windfarm owner Invis Energy.
A spokesperson for Cork-based Invis told us: “Invis Energy, owner of the Meenbog wind farm, confirms that a peat slippage occurred at the site. There is no risk to public health.
“We are working with the relevant authorities to fully address the matter. We are grateful to the local community for their continued support.”
A 2016 application for a 49-turbine windfarm at Meenbog was refused by Donegal County Council.
Then Planree Ltd, which was based at the same Cork business park [Lissarda] as Invis, reapplied in December 2017 – this time for a smaller development.
A year later it took Donegal County Council to the High Court over its Development Plan for 2018-2024 which zoned the area as “not open to consideration to wind farm development” because of its proven environmental sensitivity – and won.
Planning approval was granted for the 19-turbine farm in June 2018 by national body An Bord Pleanala despite community opposition.
Bord Pleanala has declined to comment on the landslide at the site, saying it falls to the council to investigate.
RoI’s Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications said: “The investigation is being led by Donegal County Council and involves a number of statutory agencies.
“This Department has no direct involvement, however two of our Agencies – The Loughs Agency and the EPA – are involved and will carry out their investigations in line with their statutory remit.”
Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure was consulted on the contentious planning application for the windfarm.
A spokesperson told the Mirror: “DfI Rivers was consulted on the application for the wind farm at Meenbog but as it was confirmed that there would be no direct discharges to any natural watercourses, with all drainage waters being dispersed as overland flows, it was not considered likely that the proposed development would increase flood risk in Northern Ireland.
“DfI Roads was consulted on the application for the wind farm at Meenbog. As it was confirmed that there would be no transport impacts identified that would impact roads in the North, no further consultation was required.”
Now that a peat landslide has occurred, NI Environmental Department DAERA is also involved.
A DAERA spokesperson said: “A cross border multi-agency meeting was held on 16th November 2020 to co-ordinate the response to the significant pollution event that is impacting the Mourne Beg River resulting from a bog slide in the townland of Meenbog, Ballybofey.
“The location of the bog slide is within the site of a wind farm that is under construction.
“The wind farm developer has suspended all works at the site with the exception of those that relate to mitigating the impact of the bog slide and reducing the risk of further slides.
“Loughs Agency staff are currently in the process of evaluating the environmental effect of a significant peat slide in the Mourne Beg River and NIEA staff have commenced a water sampling programme on the impacted rivers to investigate the impact on water quality.”
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