Planning permission for a controversial €240 million wind farm development at in north Meath has been refused by an Bord Pleanála.
Element Power had sought permission for the construction at Emlagh, near Kells, of three wind farm clusters of up to 46 wind turbines with a maximum tip height of up to 169 metres.
An oral hearing last summer lasted for five weeks and heard some 117 submissions, including from local residents who feared the wind farm would impact on their health, on their properties and on the equine industry in the area.
The inspector who conducted the oral hearing recommended that planning be granted for the development in his report but the board voted by a majority of four to two to refuse permission.
In its decision, the board said it considered that a wind farm of the scale, extent and height proposed would visually dominate this populated rural area, would seriously injure the amenities of property in the vicinity, would interfere with the character of the landscape and would not be in accordance with the overall development objectives of the Meath County Development Plan 2013-2019.
“Furthermore, it is considered that the proposed development would not align with the Wind Energy Development Guidelines as this guidance document did not envisage the construction of such extensive large scale turbines in an area primarily characterised as a hilly and flat farmland landscape and in such proximity to high concentrations of dwellings.
“The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”
The project had been designated a strategic infrastructure development, which meant the plans went directly to An Bord Pleanála rather than through local authorities.
The developer claimed that if permission was secured, the wind farm will generate substantial electricity for up to 30 years, jobs and some €3.5m for local projects over the lifetime of the development.
Local residents had objected to the plan at a three-week oral hearing last summer.
It was also the subject of a High Court challenge by one resident.