45m wind turbines above Derry refused over cityscape concerns

Two separate applications to erect 45 metre tall wind turbines on Creevagh Hill above Derry have been shot down by Derry City and Strabane District Council's Planning Committee on the grounds that they would blight the countryside and cityscape.

Tuesday, 11th April 2017, 9:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 8:21 pm

Farmer Mr. J. Middleton applied for permission to erect a large turbine on the eastern slopes of Creevagh Hill 140 metres North West of 12 Heather Road on farmland behind Creggan.

His near neighbour, Mr. G. Foster, lodged a similar bid for a renewable energy device on grazing land 465 metres North West of 20 Heather Road.

However, both turbines were refused planning permission due to the visual impact both planning officers and committee members deemed the towering machines would have had.

Officers were concerned picture postcard views of Derry and the hills behind Creggan that are currently enjoyed from the Waterside and the city centre would be spoiled by the development.

They showed the committee several pictures of the proposed turbine sites and argued both would have had “an unacceptable adverse visual impact on the countryside and wider cityscape”.

One photograph, taken from Ebrington Square, which showed the Holywell, Glassagh and Creevagh Hills, with the Hill of Derry, Guildhall and St. Columb’s Cathedral in the foreground, was used to drive home the officers’ point.

The picture showed clearly how radio masts at Sheriff’s Mountain and on Holywell Hill, whilst having kept Derry informed and entertained over the years, have also created a spoiling effect in terms of the views of Derry and surrounding countryside.

Mr. Middleton’s proposal for a single 150 kilowatt wind turbine, estimated at 44.5 metres in height, and Mr. Foster’s proposal for a similar machine that would have risen to 46.5 metres, were both knocked back for these reasons.

“These western slopes frame the city and provide a scenic landscape setting,” said an officer’s report.

While wind turbines are permitted to the south west of the city they are only permitted on the lower lying and rolling hillsides nearer Killea, where the visual impact would be less drastic.

“I believe that this is referring to the low lying hills around the settlements of Killea and Nixon’s Corner,” the officer’s report added.

“This site would not lie within this area. The site lies on the higher slopes in and around Killea Hill and Creevagh Hill,” it added.

Both applications were recommended for refusal by the council planning committee during its April meeting.