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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Public inquiry to be held into proposed 14-turbine wind farm in the Antrim Coast and Glens

The Department for Infrastructure has directed a public inquiry to be held into a proposed 14-turbine wind farm in the Antrim Coast and Glens area.

A planning application has been submitted for a wind farm to be erected at Ballygilbert four kilometres from Ballygally and three kilometres from Cairncastle.

The proposed location would be accessed from Feystown Road where there is an existing agricultural entrance less than half a kilometre from the Antrim Hills Way Car Park.

The western boundary is 1.1km from St Mary’s Church, Feystown. The northern site boundary is approximately four km from Glenarm village.

There have been 509 objections to the application and 22 letters of support.

A letter to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s planning department from the Department for Infrastructure’s Strategic Planning Directorate says:

“The minister has considered the details of the planning application and is of the opinion that the application should proceed to a public inquiry.

“The Department has written to the Planning Appeals Commission to make the necessary arrangements.”

The application has been submitted by Larne-based renewable energy company RES which says it represents £24.2m investment to “support the green economic recovery in Northern Ireland”.

If approved, RES says it would be “capable of generating enough clean, low cost renewable electricity for approximately 61,900 homes” and would be worth a further £13.79m in rates during the operational life of the wind farm.

RES says that following DfI’s decision to recommend the planning application for Ballygilbert Wind Farm is to be subject to a public inquiry, the company is “awaiting confirmation from the Planning Appeals Commission on when it is expected to take place”.

Jennifer McCorry, senior development project manager at RES, commented: “With the rising cost of living and climate change emergency, it’s crucial that we fast-track our transition to renewables and deliver electricity efficiently and at the lowest cost to the consumer.

“Onshore wind, together with large scale solar and offshore wind is the cheapest form of electricity generation. It also increases energy security by reducing reliance on imports and builds our resilience to sudden fossil fuel price fluctuations and the uncertainties of global markets.

“Projects like Ballygilbert would play an important role in achieving Northern Ireland’s ‘Path to Net Zero’ aim to achieve 80 per cent of our electricity generations from renewables by 2030 and now is the time to double down on the benefits the technology can deliver.

“If consented, the 60MW project will be capable of generating low-cost renewable electricity to power approximately 61,900 homes. Additionally, it has been estimated that £10.41 million will be realised in the Northern Ireland economy during construction alone and a further £13.79 million in rates to support the provision of essential services for residents, during the operational life of the wind farm.”

Commenting on social media, Coast Road DUP Councillor Andrew Clarke said: “A public inquiry is now to be held into the proposed wind farm. This decision is a welcome recognition of the seriousness of planting 14 turbines in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“Coast Road and the Antrim Glens are part of the Causeway Coastal route and it is right that any move to alter the landscape is fully considered.”

Party colleague Gordon Lyons MLA said: “We are pleased that as a result of our representations and the strongly expressed views of local residents, there will now be a public inquiry into the application.”


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