Sunday 30 April 2017

Birds of prey cause a storm at €50m windfarm project

Roisin Burke

A rare bird of prey has put paid to Bord Gais's €50m windfarm development plan in Co Galway.

Planning permission was refused on appeal last Thursday because "the proposed development may adversely affect the Hen Harrier, as specified in Article 4 of the Birds Directive," An Bord Pleanala's inspector said.

The windfarm at Keelderry, Gort, Co Galway, would have provided electricity for 30,000 homes. But Birdwatch Ireland appealed against the 16 wind turbine development because of "its impact on wild birds of conservation concern and of national and European importance" and the appeal was upheld.

This is the second time in a month that Bord Gais's renewable energy investment plans have been pecked at by concerns over the Hen Harrier.

Earlier this month, An Bord Pleanala refused plans for an extension to the €200m-investment Booltiagh Wind Ltd in Co Clare, a Bord Gais joint venture with DP Energy. It would have produced electricity to power 5,000 homes.

Bord Gais has now only received planning permission for the first set of turbines at the site, on condition that an ecologist be retained "to monitor Hen Harrier activity during construction and for five years afterwards", planning documents said.

The two windfarm projects are part of the portfolio that Bord Gais bought from SWS Natural Energy last year.

Hen Harriers are a threatened species and are said to be nearing extinction in the UK.

Sunday Independent

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