After years of controversy, planning permission has been refused for a commercial scale windfarm near Garvagh.
T he application, first lodged in 2011, was turned down at the Causeway Coast and Glens council due to the visual impact on the surrounding rural environment.
After years of deliberation and well over one thousand letters from the public, both in support of and objecting to the application, a divided council chamber voted against the proposed wind farm.
Causeway Coast and Glens planning officer Shane Mathers explained the proposal: “We have assessed the application and the recommendation is that permission is granted in this case.
“The site is located approximately 6km to the north of Garvagh. Six turbines are proposed, in this case 120.5 metres. The hub heights are going to be 85 metres so it is large, commercial scale wind turbines.
“This application was previously recommended as being approved or granted by the Department of the Environment and on two occasions that has been brought to the former Coleraine Borough Council and on both occasions the council had asked for it to be deferred - in the first instance for a meeting with objectors and on the second occasion to go to the Minister of the Environment.
“You can see there in terms of representations, there have been quite a few objections and support letters for this application - 34 initial objections and then 486 additional letters of objection received from February of this year onwards. Letters of support: 896 letters in total and 380 were submitted in September.
“NIEA landscape architects branch were consulted and they were not satisfied with the development. They commented: ‘the structures of the scale proposed were totally inappropriate within this small landscape and would visually dominate the surrounding environment. The proposal would be visible over a wide area.”
Despite Mr Mathers’ recommendation that the application be approved, a majority of councillors voted against the proposal. DUP councillor Sam Cole addressed Mr Mathers, saying: “You are looking at this from a divorced view of reality. Your assessment of the visual impact would not be shared by a prospective property buyer.”
Bill Gamble of GM Design spoke to councillors on behalf of objectors. He said: “The key objectors are local people, those who live nearest the proposal. The key issues here are the impact on the local community.”