Garvagh wind farm gets approval for environment minister

News
News

An £18m wind farm, rejected by councillors, has been approved by the environment minister after the decision was reviewed by his department.

The plan for six wind turbines at Cam Burn, was voted down at a council meeting in September.

But now Minister, Mark H Durkan has told the council he has decided to approve it.

And the timing means it got planning permission just before an important deadline that affects such developments.

It had to have approval by 30 October 2015 to qualify for subsidies before Northern Ireland’s renewable scheme was closed to on-shore wind.

Those opposed to the proposal had raised concerns about its visual impact on the landscape, proximity to homes and potential environmental implications.

There had been 524 letters of objection.

Supporters had pointed to the construction benefits, that it would reduce carbon emissions by more than 320,000 tonnes over 25 years, and generate power for 6,482 homes.

There had been 896 letters of support.

Mr Durkan told the assembly he had called in the decision “due to the particular difficulties” arising from the closure of the on-shore wind farm scheme.

In an answer to a written assembly question by TUV leader Jim Alister, he said he had “also noted the potential economic and environmental contribution from this project”.

The current minimum target is for Northern Ireland to generate 40% of its energy from renewables by 2020.

Northern Ireland currently produces 19.76% of its energy requirements from renewable sources, mostly on-shore wind.

Cam Burn wind farm is being built by Oxford-based TCI Renewables, which develops projects across the UK and North America.

It has around 20 in Northern Ireland, some of which are at the planning stage. Existing schemes include single turbines and wind farms.