THE developer behind plans to build Ireland’s largest onshore wind farm has been told they must take the nearby Barnesmore Gap and a nesting site of a rare bird of prey into consideration when submitting their planning application.
On Friday, the Donegal News revealed huge 500 foot turbines will form part of the development which could be constructed along a 15 kilometre stretch of the top of the Finn Valley, from the iconic Barnesmore to near Castlefin.
If the wind farm goes ahead, the developers claim, the local community would benefit from a special fund worth €3 million over the 25 year lifespan of the turbines.
Back in January An Bord Pleanala (ABP) was notified by Cork-based Planree Ltd of plans for their proposed development, to be partially located within ten townlands from Carrickduff Hill near Barnesmore, down along the border to Belalt, outside Castlefin.
On Friday, ABP published their decision that the company must apply directly to them instead of through Donegal County Council.
However, when making their decision, the board noted the proximity of the site to Barnesmore Gap, and advised that potential impacts on that area, or other visually sensitive areas, should be given careful consideration.
The presence of a rare bird of prey, the hen harrier, on the site was also noted.
“In this regard, the need for comprehensive survey information and analysis to inform the application has already been stated. “The applicant should also comment on the regional significance of the populations concerned,” their report stated.
In determining the proposed development would comprise Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID), ABP said the site is located in area ‘open to consideration’ for wind farm development, according to the County Development Plan.
“The site is not affected by any ecological designations, but there are a number of designated sites surrounding the subject site, including Special Area of Conversations (SACs) and National Heritage Areas (NHAs). The closest Natura 2000 site is the River Finn SAC.
“The board was satisfied that significant effects on the environment of a transboundary state (Northern Ireland) are likely, generally in accordance with the Inspector’s recommendation, and therefore the procedures for same should be invoked.”
Ambitious plans for the project will be unveiled to members of the public for the first time at a special information day in Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey, tomorrow (Wednesday). The event will be held from 3 pm to 8 pm.