The endangered fresh water pearl mussel has struck again – this time to knock back another large scale, €54m wind-farm in west Clare.
As a result, local community groups are to miss out on a €1m windfall promised by the developers of the wind farm near the west Clare village of Kilmihil.
Last month, the mussel was the key ally in US billionaire Donald Trump’s successful battle against plans for a giant wind-farm near his Doonbeg golf course and hotel.
Now, following on from An Bord Pleanála refusing the Doonbeg wind-farm, Clare County Council has refused planning permission to Clare Winds Ltd for a 12 turbine wind-farm with turbines at 136m high — nearly 15m higher than Dublin’s Spire.
As part of the plan, Clare Winds Ltd stated that the €1m ‘community gain’ fund over the 25-year lifetime of the project could include youth, sport and community facilities.
The 30 megawatt wind-farm would have had provided the energy to power 15,517 homes and created 50 jobs during the construction phase.
The council refused planning permission in spite of consultants for the developers locating the nearest mussel 3km downstream of the proposed wind farm and only seven of the EU protected mussels within 9km downstream.
In a 5km channel of the Doonbeg River, consultants detected 1,851 live mussels.
In its decision to refuse planning to the windfarm 4km from Kilmihil, Clare County Council cited the sole reason as the impact the wind farm would have on the fresh water pearl mussel in the nearby Doonbeg River.
In its decision, the council stated “it is not satisfied on the basis of the information presented that the proposed development would not have a negative impact on the future survival of the freshwater pearl mussel in the Doonbeg River”.
The council said the proposal contravenes an objective of the Clare County Development Plan that aims to ensure the protection and conservation of areas, sites, species and ecological networks throughout Clare.
The council refused planning after its environmental section said it should adopt a precautionary approach to the application due to the large numbers of fresh water pearl mussels in the Doonbeg River.
The Environmental section recommended refusal “on the basis that the applicant has not satisfactorily demonstrated that surface water run-off can be effectively managed so as to protect against the release of fine suspended particles into receiving waters with potential detrimental effect on the downstream fresh water pearl mussel’.
Clare Winds Ltd now has the option of appealing the Council decision to An Bord Pleanála.