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Wednesday 21 March 2018

Planning permission granted for €600m windfarm

Stock photo
Stock photo
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

PLANNING permission has been granted for one of the biggest wind farms in the country.

An Bord Pleanala has granted permission for the €600m Oweninny wind farm in north Mayo.

The project, which was put forward by the ESB/Bord Na Móna consortium Oweninny Power Limited has been given the go ahead for 61 turbine, reduced from an original proposal of 112 after Phase 3 of the project was dropped.

The development has been granted approval subject to 20 conditions.

The proposed wind farm site is located at Bellacorrick in north-west Mayo, 30km west of Ballina. There are a number of existing, permitted and proposed windfarms in the vicinity.

The local community has objected to the plans which had been subject to a protracted planning appeal process.

Up to 18 objections were lodged for the Oweninny development on the grounds of safety, proximity to dwellings, noise, flicker, grazing rights and value of property.

As part of its ruling ABP failed to impose a condition that the developer would make an annual payment to a community fund.

An oral hearing into the planned development in 2014 heard the company had previously offered €1,000 per megawatt (MW) for the benefit of the community.

While locals had requested significantly higher levels of payments, and the ABP inspector had recommended €2,500 per MW, the ABP said it “noted and welcomed the applicant’s significant proposals and commitments in relation to the establishment of a Community Benefit Fund and its proposed endowment with monies based on a contribution of €1,000 per MW installed per annum (index linked) for the operational life of the site”.

“In view of the stated commitments of the applicant, and notwithstanding the powers under s.37G of the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006 with respect to the provision or financing of community gain facilities, the Board considered the imposition of a condition in the present circumstances was not necessary,” it added.

In granting approval, the inspector stated: “It is considered that, subject to compliance with the conditions set out below, the proposed development would not have a significant adverse impact on the landscape or upon its archaeological or cultural heritage of the area, would not give rise to any significant impacts on the natural heritage of the area or affect the integrity of any European site or any protected species, and would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience of road users.”

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