Ninety-three objections have been received to a proposed new wind farm on the outskirts of Larne, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Planning Committee heard at a meeting on Thursday morning.
A planning proposal has been lodged for 14 turbines to be erected at Ballygilbert three kilometres north west of Cairncastle.
A decision is to be taken by the Department for Infrastructure’s Strategic Planning Directorate as it is considered to be a “regionally significant application” due to the proposed operating capacity.
The planned development also includes a battery energy storage system.
The site is located within Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the committee heard.
The committee was also told in a council officer’s report that within the Local Development Plan 2030, Draft Plan Strategy, the proposed wind farm is located within an Area of Constraint on High Structures and within this designation, structures over 25 metres will only be permitted if the proposal is “of regional importance to outweigh the detrimental impact on the landscape”.
Councillors heard that the proposed development “raises issues with regard to prematurity to the proposed Area of Constraint on High Structures Policy” although it is not the role of the council to assess the planning application.
Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Robert Logan proposed the council responds to the department’s consultation referencing prematurity concerns with regard to potential prejudicing the policy of the Draft Plan Strategy concerning Areas of Constraint on High Structures.
Larne Lough DUP Alderman Paul Reid reported a “backlash” in the area over the application.
“I have received new correspondence from people in the area who are opposed to this,” he said.
The application has been submitted by Larne-based renewable energy company RES which says 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.
Jennifer McCorry, senior development manager RES, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service recently: “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.”
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