An Bord Pleanála has given the green light to Coillte for contentious plans for a large scale 19 turbine wind farm in Co Clare that will have the capacity to power 66,500 homes annually.
That means that the 110 MW project on the northern western slopes of Slieve Bernagh will have sufficient power to provide electricity to all homes in Clare or in Wicklow.
Recent Central Statistics Office census figures confirmed a housing stock of 58,148 in Clare and 60,113 homes in Wicklow.
The wind farm is located on a 750 hectare (1,853 acre) site 4km north-east of the village of Broadford, 7km north-west of the lake heritage town of Killaloe and 2.5km south of the village of Bodyke and straddles seven town lands.
The turbines on the Carrownagowan wind farm have a tip height of 555 feet high.
In granting planning permission, the appeals board ruled that the scheme would not adversely affect the integrity of European protected sites.
Documents lodged with the planning application state that the wind-farm will displace 2.825 million tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, which it described as “a long term beneficial effect”.
The wind farm is to be developed by Future Energy Ireland which is a joint venture between Coillte and the ESB.
The appeals board also concluded that the project would make a positive contribution to Ireland’s strategic policy on renewable energy.
Independent Clare TD Michael McNamara claimed, however, today that the decision creates “a risk of another catastrophic landslide on a site where there were previously landslides accompanying the development of forest roads”.
Deputy McNamara said he believes that legal challenges will inevitably be mounted against the appeals board grant of permission.
On the issue of potential peat slides, the inspector in the case, Sarah Lynch stated that “peat stability has been examined and I am satisfied that the site does not pose a significant threat to such an event”.
The plan was lodged direct to An Bord Pleanála as it was classified as a Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID) and the appeals board received 21 submissions with the bulk of those opposed to the project.
Ailish and Brian O’Dwyer told the appeals board that there was a significant peat slip in the 1980s in the area and that the lands and depth of peat are not suitable for construction.
Ute and Conrad Rumberger told the appeals board that a previous seven turbine wind-farm was proposed for the area and the reasons for refusal still remain in place.
Donal O’Connor stated that he lives 2km from the proposed development site and argued that the proposal would negatively impact the heritage landscape around Lough Derg.
The construction of the wind-farm is to create 100 jobs.
Clare County Council told the appeals board that the principle of the proposed development is in accordance with the policy position of the Council as set out in the Development Plan.
Reporting by Gordon Deegan
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