Clare wind farm proposal faces widespread opposition

State’s air traffic control agency among those objecting

The commercial semi-State agency charged with managing air traffic is objecting to plans for a new 50MW wind farm in southeast Clare.

Limerick firm Ballycar Green Energy has plans before An Bord Pleanála for a 12-turbine wind farm to be located 3km northwest from Limerick city.

To date, An Bord Pleanála has received 74 third-party submissions, with the bulk opposed to the wind farm, which is proposed for a 105-hectare site neighbouring the townland of Ballycar, north of Meelick in southeast Clare.

A planning report lodged with the application states that the proposed wind farm “will directly assist in achieving national targets for energy from renewable energy, from renewable resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy production”.


The tip height of the wind turbines is to be 156m and the scheme is facing objections from Shannon Airport and AirNav Ireland due to the wind farm’s proximity to the Woodcock Hill radar station in southeast Clare.

AirNav Ireland provides air traffic management and related services within the 451,000sq km of airspace controlled by Ireland and employs more than 200 air traffic controllers in Dublin, Cork and Shannon and 50 radio officers in Ballygirreen, Co Clare, to ensure the safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic.

In an objection against the wind farm, Charlie O’Loughlin, manager of surveillance M&E Systems at AirNav Ireland, told the appeals board that AirNav Ireland objects to the wind farm as the development would result in a reduction in the level of safety in the Shannon en-route and Dublin air traffic control centres which depend on the Woodcock Hill radar station.

Mr O’Loughlin contends that the proposed wind farm “would degrade the performance of the Woodcock Hill radar”.

AirNav Ireland’s objections are supported by Shannon Airport. In a separate objection, the airport’s safety compliance and environment manager, Paul Hennessy, told An Bord Pleanála the airport objects to the wind farm as no mitigation measures can prevent impacts on the Woodcock Hill radar.

A spokeswoman for Ballycar Green Energy said that “the company notes AirNav’s submission and will demonstrate that all safety and operational requirements will be adhered to and will provide technical information to further confirm and support this to An Bord Pleanála and AirNav Ireland”.

She said that the proposed project “would play a central role in Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon economy by 2050″.

Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on climate action, Senator Timmy Dooley, has lodged a submission stating that the proposed wind farm site is in an area of exceptional beauty and a widely used recreational area for urban dwellers who wish to enjoy nature and the countryside.

The Clare senator said “this development would have a terrible impact on such enjoyment”.

In a separate submission, local TD, Cathal Crowe (Fianna Fáil) contends that the height of the turbines is excessive.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times