AN energy company hoping to locate a windfarm in the Stacks mountains says a looming ban on development in the protected area would damage Kerry's economy.
Kerry County Council are seeking to implement a ban on windfarm development in the Stacks Mountains in north Kerry - the most intensely wind-farmed area of the county, with 225 of the 375 wind turbines built in Kerry between 1997 and 2011 situated there.
There is now no further capacity for windfarm development in the area, the council has found. The Stacks Mountains has Special Protection Area status as an EU Natura 2000 ecologically-sensitive site - mainly because it is a habitat for the protected bird of prey, the Hen Harrier.
Energy company Saorgus, which was recently granted approval by An Bord Pleanála for a 28-turbine windfarm in the Stacks Mountains, says the ban will damage the Kerry economy. They already operate three windfarms in the Stacks Mountains.
The ban, if introduced, could result in Kerry County Council facing a hefty loss of income, Saorgus Director Aidan Forde warned this week.
"At a time when everyone knows how strapped councils are for money it would make little sense to ban development. We estimate the loss of revenue in terms of commercial rates to the council would be in the region of €3.2 million per year," he said.
Saorgus's 28-turbine windfarm which has just got the green light would realise €750,000 per annum alone for the council, he added.
Kerry County Council, however, said any windfarm plan with planning may still go ahead. However, the ban is being introduced as the area is at capacity and is of great environmental importance.