By Eoin Kelleher
A MAJOR windfarm near Kilcooly Abbey in the vicinity of Thurles, has been given the green light by An Bord Pleanala, after objections were raised by two parties.
Alan Wright of Newpark, The Commons, Thurles, and Kevin Dolan and others, lodged an objection against a decision made by South Tipperary County Council on September 10th last year. The Council gave the go-ahead for Cnoc Windfarms Ltd. to build five wind turbines, site tracks and hard standing areas, an anemometry mast, a small control building and compound, underground cabling, signage, and other works at Grangehill, Bawnlea and Newpark, Grange, Barna, Thurles.
The objectors’ main concerns centred around obstruction to local scenery, especially on the Kilkenny Cashel scenic route and Kilcooly Abbey. There were also concerns over the unsuitability of infrastructure, noise impact, and the effects on wildlife, hydrology and geology. Concerns were also raised over property devaluation, traffic, and shadow flicker.
Cnoc Windfarm responded to these objections by saying the development does not contravene planning regulations. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) also addressed concerns relating to impact on wildlife, scenery, noise and ecology. An initial Inspector’s report recommended rejecting the plans as they “would be visually obtrusive and would significantly detract from the cultural and visual amenity and landscape setting of the medieval Kilcooley Abbey.”
However, this decision was not upheld by the Board, which cited national policy in respect of renewable energy.
“It is considered that, subject to compliance with the conditions... the proposed development would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity, including Kilcooly Abbey, would not adversely affect the natural heritage of the area, would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience, would not cause land slippage and would, therefore, be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.” Twelve conditions were attached to the decision. Similar plans put forward in 2002 for 17 turbines at roughly the same location were previously rejected by the board.