The Derry City and Strabane District Council area is over capacity for wind farms and carrying an unfair burden compared to other council areas, says Sinn Fein councillor Dan Kelly.
He was speaking as the council’s planning committee voted to overturn a recommendation by council officers to agree an expansion to Monnaboy Wind Farm just outside Greysteel in Co Londonderry.
The application was for two new turbines, adding to four existing turbines which were installed in 2009 – before local councils took over responsibility for planning.
Mr Kelly said that figures presented to the committee showed that the council area was over capacity for wind-powered renewable energy by almost 10%.
“We are carrying other councils across the north,” he said.
“We are over target and I feel that the recommendation from council officers on this occasion should have been not to approve this application.”
Mr Kelly also said that he felt the figures presented in support of the application were ‘misleading’.
“It says the turbines will generate electricity to 3,374 homes but that would only be true if they operate at 100% capacity,” he said.
“The wind does not blow 100% of the time at 100% capacity.
“They operate at only 26.4% of capacity which would mean that the true number of houses they could generate electricity for is 843.”
There were 82 objections to the proposed extension and one objector, Mary McMenamin, told the committee that the wind farm had an ‘overbearing’ presence on the local area.
There are 60 homes within two kilometres of this wind farm at the moment, she said.
“This is not a minor expansion, it is a 50% increase in the number of turbines on the wind farm.
“This site should not be allowed to develop in such a piecemeal way.
“The four turbines that are already there should not have been given permission.
“This is a remote tranquil area and the turbines erode that and they have an adverse impact on wildlife in the area.
“I believe that the claims made about the amount of energy created by turbines does not take into account the fact that electricity is required to keep the turbines moving when there is no wind.
“They have an overbearing presence. Physically there are very tall and placed on a hill. The noise is overbearing and it is constant and not what you expect to have in the countryside.”
DUP councillor Hilary McClintock said: “These turbines cause damage to residential amenity and not enough weight is being given to that and it is significant that there were 82 objectors to this expansion.
“I have real concerns about this application.”