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Bird of prey harries massive €74m wind farm out of the sky

The landmark planning decision on the project - which had been due to dominate the skyline and span seven townlands at Knockacummer, Co Cork - is set to lead to a flood of similar objections anywhere wind farms are planned in the species' habitat. The presence of the bird was the sole reason for refusal by the planning authority, signalling a tough new approach to wind farm developments impacting upon protected bird species.

A landmarkruling protecting a rare bird of prey has stopped construction of a giant 74m wind farm and could scupper plans for hundreds of similar developments nationwide. Bord Pleanala, in the first ruling of its kind, shot down a massive wind farm with 29 turbines planned for Co Cork because it could interfere with the habitat of the protected hen harrier.

The landmark planning decision on the project - which had been due to dominate the skyline and span seven townlands at Knockacummer, Co Cork - is set to lead to a flood of similar objections anywhere wind farms are planned in the species' habitat.

The presence of the bird was the sole reason for refusal by the planning authority, signalling a tough new approach to wind farm developments impacting upon protected bird species.

The hen harrier, an internationally protected species, has fewer than 150 pairs left in Kerry, Cork and Limerick. Killing or disturbance of the birds or their nests at any time is forbidden.

The South Western Services Group, representing five co-ops in West Cork, had got permission from Cork Co Council to build a wind farm of 29 turbines soaring 120m into the skyline.... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A landmark ruling protecting a rare bird of prey has stopped construction of a giant €74m wind farm and could scupper plans for hundreds of similar developments nationwide. Bord Pleanala, in the first ruling of its kind, shot down a massive wind farm with 29 turbines planned for Co Cork because it could interfere with the habitat of the protected hen harrier.

The landmark planning decision on the project - which had been due to dominate the skyline and span seven townlands at Knockacummer, Co Cork - is set to lead to a flood of similar objections anywhere wind farms are planned in the species' habitat.

The presence of the bird was the sole reason for refusal by the planning authority, signalling a tough new approach to wind farm developments impacting upon protected bird species.

The hen harrier, an internationally protected species, has fewer than 150 pairs left in Kerry, Cork and Limerick. Killing or disturbance of the birds or their nests at any time is forbidden.

The South Western Services Group, representing five co-ops in West Cork, had got permission from Cork Co Council to build a wind farm of 29 turbines soaring 120m into the skyline. The turbines are 80m high, but with a blade diameter of 80m they reach to 120m in height. Bord Pleanala upheld an appeal by the Bruach Na Carraige Cultural and Heritage Centre against the decision because of the presence of the hen harrier.

In its ruling, the board said the proposed development was located on a site identified as a nesting and foraging habitat of the hen harrier, a species listed for protection in the EU Birds Directive.

The site was also being considered by the Government for designation as a Special Area of Conservation for the birds, the board said. The Government is proposing to designate nine special conservation sites to protect the birds.

Bord Pleanala said it was not satisfied that the development would not have "significant and adverse impacts on the hen harrier".

The giant turbines would disturb and displace the birds and wipe out their habitats.

The board said it took the decision to refuse permission after considering the size and scale of the proposed wind farm in an area of national importance for the conservation of the hen harrier.

It also took account of the fact that a number of wind farms were already operating in the area. One of these was given permission on the basis that it was small and its operators would monitor the effect on the hen harrier.

"The proposed development would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area," said Bord Pleanala.

A spokesperson for the SWS group said yesterday they were "incredibly disappointed" at the ruling and insisted the council had designated the area as suitable for wind farm development.

There has been widespread opposition from farmers to the proposed protected designations, as they fear they will deprive them of income from windfarms and forestry in upland areas.

But bird lovers and environmental groups are actively campaigning against any developments that negatively impact on the habitats of protected bird species.

A dead hen harrier was recently posted to the Kerryman newspaper at the height of controversy over the planned designations.

The male bird, pale grey with distinctive black wing tips, is smaller than the female. This allows him to specialise in feeding on small birds.

The dark brown female tackles larger prey, mainly rabbits. Their habitat is heather moorland, blanket bogs, upland farmland and young plantations.


Source: http://www.independent.ie/n...

JUN 1 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/26573-bird-of-prey-harries-massive-74m-wind-farm-out-of-the-sky
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