A wind farm company has claimed that Mayo County Council and the National Roads Authority were ‘inconsistent’ in the reasons they gave for denying planning permission for eight wind turbines in bogland near Bangor Erris.
Ecopower Developments Ltd were refused planning permission by Mayo County Council for the development of eight wind turbines on a 52-hectare site located off the N59, approximately 5.8km south of Bangor Erris.
The wind turbines were to be a maximum height of 127 metres, and the application also proposed an underground grid connection for 16.8MW capacity to the 38KV substation at Bangor Erris.
During the planning application, the National Roads Authority (NRA) noted that the proposal to have a direct access to the N59 would create an adverse impact on the national roads and ‘be at variance with the foregoing national policy in relation to control of frontage development on national roads’.
The application was refused by Mayo County Council on August 14, 2015. The Council stated that the proposed direct access off the N59 to the development would endanger public safety by reason of a traffic hazard.
The Council also stated that the development would ‘seriously impact on the visual amenity and national character of the landscape’ .
In its appeal to An Bord Pleanála, Ecopower Developments Ltd, a Kilkenny-based company, stated that it was prepared to reduced the development from eight turbines to five to reduce the visual impact on the landscape.
They also stated the reasons used by both Mayo County Council and the NRA to recommend refusal for the development were inconsistent compared to other applications along the N59.
The company cited two recent applications where permission was granted for developments despite access from the N59. One of these was the construction of a lay-by for car-parking along the N59 near Ballycroy in which the NRA made no comment in its submission on the access from the N59.
The other development, granted planning permission on August 7, 2015, was the filling of lands with inert soil for the purpose of land reclamation at Knockychottaun, Kilmeena. In their submission, the NRA stated that the access would be at variance with the national policy in relation to control of frontage development on national roads but that it ‘would have no objection’ if the Council granted planning permission.
In its submission to the planning authority, Ecopower proposed that the access point would be limited to the construction phase and that following construction, the access point would be closed and the road verges reinstated. Operational access, the company stated, would be gained from an already existing access point that is being used for turf cutting, adding that operational teams would only use it two or three times a day.
In 2002, planning permission for 51 turbines on a larger site encompassing the current site was refused by Mayo County Council and subsequently by ABP following an appeal. The current case is due to be decided by ABP on December 23, 2015.