Hen harrier helps to halt west Clare wind farm

Appeals board identifies ‘adverse ornithological impacts’ linked to the project

The impact on the hen harrier, a protected bird, has helped to put paid to plans for a 557ft-tall, 10-turbine wind farm in west Clare.

An Bord Pleanála has refused planning permission for the contentious wind farm 8km from the west Clare coastline.

As part of its plan for the wind farm for Cahermurphy near the west Clare village of Kilmihil, MCRE Windfarm Ltd had proposed to remove 63 hectares of breeding and foraging area suitable for the hen harrier.

The appeals board ruled that when taken in conjunction with other wind farms in the area, the plan would result in unacceptable cumulative adverse ornithological impacts, and for the hen harrier in particular.


The board made this a reason for refusal after its inspector in the case, Kevin Moore concluded that the proposal would have significant adverse impacts on the ornithological importance of the area by way of collision, mortality, disturbance and displacement of protected bird species.

The decision by the board upholds a planning refusal issued by Clare Co Council almost two years ago and ends a planning battle with locals that began after plans were first lodged in September 2020.

The Cahermurphy Wind Farm No II Opposition Group led the local opposition. One of those to object was west Clare-based best-selling author Niall Williams.

Mr Williams was longlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize in 2014 for his History of the Rain novel.

A native of Dublin, Mr Williams moved to Kiltumper with his wife Christine Breen in the 1980s. In their objection to the plan, they said: “People live in this landscape and we believe this development and others like it will ultimately lead to the depopulation of the region in favour of the wind industry, a situation which the planners will not only have overseen, but stewarded into being.”

An environmental-impact statement (EIS) lodged with the application stated that the proposed project would create 72 jobs over the lifetime of the wind farm and a community benefit fund of €5.6m would be made available.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times