A controversial proposal for a new wind farm would have a “huge visual impact on one of Northern Ireland’s most scenic areas”, a Mid and East Antrim councillor has stated.
DUP Councillor Andrew Clarke, a Coast Road representative, made the comment on social media over a planning proposal for 14 turbines to be erected at Ballygilbert three kilometres north west of Cairncastle.
The application has been submitted by Larne-based renewables energy company RES which says that it represents £24.2m investment to “support the green economic recovery in Northern Ireland.
If approved, RES says it would be “capable of generating enough clean, low cost renewable electricity for approximately 61,900 homes” and would be worth a further £13.79m in rates during the operational life of the wind farm.
However, Cllr Clarke said: “Despite strong opposition expressed at the local consultation, approval is being sought for 14 turbines almost 150m high.
“Beside the Ulster Way, bang in the middle of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the proposal has a huge visual impact on one of Northern Ireland’s most scenic areas.”
Cllr Clarke also said he believed it would “set a worrying precedent for the wider Glens of Antrim area”.
The proposal has also met with an angry reaction on social media from Larne residents who have said it would be “detrimental to the whole coastal area if this were allowed to proceed” and would be “an eyesore on a beautiful coastline”.
Another commented: “If this is allowed to proceed at Ballygally, the Antrim Coast and Glens, then that will be the end of tourism and the destruction of one of the most beautiful parts of the world.”
Jennifer McCorry, senior development manager RES, said: “We have worked hard to ensure Ballygilbert Wind Farm will only be visible from certain locations, including some along the Coast Road, and have assessed its impact on the local landscape accordingly within our planning application.
“We estimate the site could deliver £24.2 million of investment in the form of jobs, contracts for local businesses and rates to support the vital local services that we all depend on.
“The renewables industry continues to invest in Northern Ireland, supporting jobs and local businesses. As we emerge from the current health and economic crisis, with the continued threat of climate change, it is more important than ever that we invest in a green economic recovery.
“With the wind farm capable of generating enough renewable electricity for approximately 61,900 homes every year, and onshore wind (along with large scale solar) being the cheapest forms of new electricity generation, the Ballygilbert project could make an important contribution to these targets.”
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter
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