Campaigner says it’s time to look at wind farm legislation once again

Wind turbines.
Wind turbines.

A Co. Derry anti-windfarm campaigner has called on legislators to revisit the laws regarding the development of turbines to prevent the saturation of the North West with the renewable energy generators.

Mr. Ken Francis, of the Slaughtmanus Community Conservation Group, is among a number of residents campaigning against the RES Group’s Barr Cregg Wind Farm, which they are opposing on a number of grounds.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’, he called on politicians to look again at the legislation regulating wind farms, in general.

The huge generators, he believes, are getting closer and closer to homes and in some cases, he argues, destroying the natural beauty of the Sperrins and their foothills.

“It’s time for a review of the legislation,” he declared.

“When they were first trying to encourage wind farms the legislation was favourable because they were trying to encourage ths industry.

“But back then people thought they were going to be out of the way, far from any houses. That’s no longer the case,” he claimed.

Mr. Francis referred to a recent Department for the Economy report that showed 31 per cent of renewable generation in the North was generated in Derry and Strabane. He said that unless a more conservative approach was adopted the district will soon be saturated.

The SCCG group has been opposing RES’s Barr Cregg farm outside Derry for the past six years.

The RES application was originally refused by Derry City & Strabane District Council in July 2015 and an appeal dismissed by the Planning Appeal Commission in June 2017.

However, following a Judicial Review in January the PAC ruling was quashed in the High Court and a new hearing scheduled for October 24.

Mr. Francis and the SCCG are opposing the development on a number of grounds including visual impact, the proximity to homes, flood management, noise and the potential effects on local wildlife.

In a statement SCCG said: “The idea that communities would be affected by wind farm development was not envisaged when the legislation (PPS18) was written. We are not protected

“The early years legislation wanted to encourage a reluctant industry to invest in wind power.

“This reluctance is no longer the case as companies recognise the potential earnings and push forward with wind farms ignoring other potential renewables.”

RES said it was looking forward to its application being heard again by the PAC and said it would be presenting a “strong case in favour of Barr Cregg Wind Farm.

“We firmly believe that Barr Cregg is a suitable location for a wind farm and we have sensitively designed the project to minimise local impacts while maximising renewable generation to the benefit of consumers,” the company told the ‘Journal’.

RES said it had “high levels of local support”, that £7.77 million would be spent during construction with a further “£6 million of inward investment...in business rates.”