Leitrim wind farm plan turned down because of 'slope instability' risk


A PROPOSED wind farm on a Co Leitrim mountain comprising mainly blanket bog, has been turned down by an Bord Pleanála because of the risk of “slope instability” and surface pollution.

The board pointed out that the proposed site for the eight-turbine development on Dough mountain, five kilometres from Manorhamilton, was in a Natural Heritage Area.

It also found that the proposed development close to the ridge line of the mountain would constitute an “unacceptable obtrusive feature on the landscape” and would seriously injure the visual and recreational amenities of the area.

Local Fine Gael councillor Seán McDermott said he was disappointed with the decision at a time when so much emphasis was on alternative sources of energy.

“We have great wind speeds in Leitrim, especially in north Leitrim, which makes it ideal for wind farms,” he said.

“This would have been a win- win situation. Oil is running out and we have to find alternative sources of energy. This would also have created substantial revenue for Leitrim County Council through rates”.

Cllr McDermott said there were wind farms scattered throughout the west of Ireland “and they certainly are not eyesores in my opinion”.

The 140-hectare site close to the mountain summit is around eight kilometres from Lough Melvin to the north and the same distance from Lough MacNean to the east.

In August 2009 Leitrim County Council granted permission, subject to 19 conditions to the developers, An Dough Windfarm Ltd care of Séamus Kennelly, Carrickfad, Fivemilebourne, Co Leitrim. This was appealed by An Taisce, the Irish Peatland Conservation Council and Kevin Deering of Swanlinbar, Co Cavan.

The board’s inspector Jenny Kelly pointed out that a bird survey conducted over a short period had noted some rare and protected species. Two hen harriers, a kestrel and peregrine, among others, were seen in the vicinity of the site.

“I consider the quality of the information submitted on the environmental impact of the wind farm with respect to the flora, fauna and hydrology of the area is inadequate and poorly evaluated with respect to the conservation status of the site”, she said.

The developers argued that, according to surveys, turbines posed no significant danger to birds and that no significant species would be removed by the wind farm.