An Bord Pleanála has overruled their own planning inspector and given approval for plans to erect a substantial €80 million wind farm on Tipperary’s highest scenic mountain peak. Objectors now claim that a proper environment impact assessment was not carried out by the planning authority, before this final consent was confirmed.
The Planning Appeals Board have granted permission to ESB Wind Development and Coillte for 16 wind turbine to be built on the slopes of Keeper Hill; latter situated in the Silvermines mountains south of the M7 motorway, joining Limerick to Dublin. These planned wind turbines will have a tip height of some 145m (475ft) – 25m (81ft) higher than Dublin’s 120m (394ft) O’Connell Street Spire.
The planning board’s own Inspector had recommended refusal of these plans; as the development would greatly interfere with the striking skylines and greatly detract from the attractive natural wild, rough countryside appearance, that is this Keeper Hill site. The Inspector had also recommended refusal fearing that this development would seriously result in the loss of a protected European-designated site and give rise to severe water pollution through the slippage of natural peat formation.
Last year, North Tipperary County Council had refused permission for this project and were supported in their refusal by the Department of Arts and Heritage, as the development could result in the significant loss of foraging habitat for an EU protected bird species, namely the Hen Harrier, latter residing within the Slievefelim and Silvermines environs; already an area granted special protection.
An Taisce,latter the charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland’s natural and built heritage, have also raised concerns over this planned proposal; claiming that 28 wind turbines had already been granted planning permission within this same specially protected area and that no further planning should be granted until a comprehensive assessment had been made of the ability of the Hen Harrier to forage within the vicinity of the wind-farm.
An Bord Pleanála, in granting this sought after 25 year planning permission period made by ESB Wind Development and Coillte, have in effect ruled that this new proposed wind farm will not seriously injure the amenities of the area or property within the vicinity and will not be injurious to the cultural heritage and tourism potential of this outstanding scenic area.
It would appear that those responsible for our National Planning have little interest in protecting Co Tipperary’s history and remaining naturally occurring scenery.