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An Bord Pleanála has refused planning permission to Coillte for the construction of a seven turbine 583 ft high wind farm for an upland site in Co Carlow.
The appeals board ruling upholds a decision by Carlow County Council to refuse planning permission for the 38.5MW wind farm in March 2021 after receiving over 280 third party submissions.
Coillte lodged a first party appeal against the refusal and the Irish Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (IHPA), Martina Kinsella, Patrick McLean, Save Mount Leinster and Sarah Durdin Robertson lodged third appeals seeking that the grounds of refusal be strengthened.
In its appeal, Coillte told the appeals board that there is an overarching requirement for each county to facilitate renewable energy development in order to meet Climate Action Plan targets.
Coillte also argued that if the proposed development does not proceed, Carlow County Council would be significantly deficient in their contribution to onshore renewable energy targets.
However, the appeals board ruled that the wind farm proposed for a 246 hectare site at Croaghaun Mountain within the Blackstairs Mountains in east Carlow 2km from the Co Wexford border should be refused planning permission as it contravenes the Carlow County Development Plan.
The appeals board pointed out that the proposal was located within the designated Blackstairs and Mount Leinster Uplands Landscape Character Area which is an area where wind farm development is not normally permitted.
Across the 35 year lifetime of the project, Coillte was set to pay out €5 million in a community fund.
The Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association told the appeals board that Croaghaun Mountain has been in continuous use by free flyers since the 1970s and is used for national competitions.
The association stated that free flyers partake in two different types of flight at Croaghaun Mountain and the proposed wind farm will have different impacts on each.
The association stated that Croaghaun Mountain forms an integral part of the Mount Leinster complex of free flying sites and is a recreational amenity and tourist attraction.
A total of 141 observations were made to the appeals board.
In relation to the hang glider concerns, the inspector in the case, Niall Haverty stated that it is clear that the proposal “would have a negative impact on paragliding and hang-gliding activities in the vicinity of Croaghaun Mountain”.
However, Mr Haverty concluded that the potential impact on paragliding and hang-gliding activities would not be so significant as to warrant refusal of planning on this basis.
Mr Haverty stated that he did not consider that the imposition of conditions restricting the operation of wind turbines in circumstances where people wish to engage in hang-gliding/paragliding in the vicinity of the proposed wind farm would be reasonable or appropriate.
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