Protests over plan for Mayo wind farm


Plans for what would be Ireland's largest wind farm - comprising 210 turbines on 12,000 acres - at Bellacorick, Co Mayo, are to be delayed because of a storm of objections.

Local residents say the turbines would be "unsightly and degrading of a visually sensitive landscape" and that the proposal had nothing to do with producing "green" energy. Rather it was "an aggressive, money-making proposal".

The Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) has also written to the planning section of Mayo County Council expressing concern about the proposal. The IPCC is worried about the change in land use from peat extraction to the production of wind energy.

The council chairman, Dr Peter Foss, said: "Should wind-farm developments take place in peatlands the best available techniques must be insisted upon to ensure that the impact on the peatlands is minimised."

Part of the site where it is proposed that the wind turbines be located is Atlantic blanket bog vegetation. The IPCC says wind-farm developments are not suitable on deep, blanket bog areas and have been shown to cause serious damage to the scientific interest of sites by facilitating erosion and causing habitat destruction.

Requesting additional information, the IPCC warns of a threat of peat runoff to the Oweninny river during construction which could affect water quality.

Local objectors say that the 210 wind towers would be a blight on the landscape. In 1992, Bellacorick became the location of Ireland's first wind farm. Mayo County Council was due to make a decision on the planning application by December 30th but this has now been delayed.