File photo: Wind farm
An Bord Pleanala’s decision to grant approval for a €100m wind farm in south Longford has been called into question after it emerged a senior official had initially called for its rejection before it was given the green light.
In a near 200 page report (dated September 6, 2019) compiled for the State planning body’s consideration, inspector John Desmond recommended Bord na Mona’s proposed 24 turbine wind farm at Derryadd be turned down.
Mr Desmond carried out three visits to the prospective site in May and June last year and ruled the development constituted a “non-integrated approach” to the redevelopment of industrially extracted peatlands for renewable energy projects.
In a further revelation contained in the board’s own planning file, it was revealed the independent planning body agreed with the Inspector in his assessment of the likely “adverse” impacts on population and human health, water and biodiversity after an environmental impact assessment was carried out.
Bord na Móna was requested to submit further information on September 24, 2019 and they responded to this request.
The recommendation of a second inspector's report conducted by Karla McBride, on March 5, 2020, said she was satisfied that there is adequate information before the Board to enable it to continue with its deliberations in relation to the proposed windfarm development.
And last week the decision to grant permission was announced.
Members from local opposition group ‘No to Derryadd Wind Farm’ expressed their disillusionment over the decision and hinted at possible taking out a judicial review against the board.
"We are disappointed especially as a national biodiversity emergency was declared by the Government and that these lands could have been transformed into the Mid Shannon Wilderness Park which would could have also sustained the Bord na Mona jobs in the area,” said PRO Niall Dennigan.
That was followed by a statement released on its own Facebook page which appeared to add further weight to a long running saga that shows little sign of abating.
“Very disappointing to receive confirmation from An Bord Pleanála that the Derryadd Wind Farm is granted planning permission despite the amount of evidence provided in relation to wildlife and the importance of rewetting these lands to deal with our national biodiversity emergency,” said the group.
“Our next step is to review the report in detail and take the necessary steps.”
Bord na Mona first lodged plans as part of its divergence away from turf cutting in February last year.
The planned 96MW wind farm will be one of the largest in the country when it's completed and is earmarked for a near 2,000-hectare site that has previously been used for peat production.