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Appeal on wind farm withdrawn


By Gordon Deegan
A £10 million (€12.7 million) wind-farm development, led by a former chairman of the Limerick branch of An Taisce, is to go ahead after An Taisce’s head office withdrew its appeal against the development to An Bord Pleanála.

Last August Limerick County Council granted planning permission to National Windpower Ltd to construct an eight-turbine wind-farm near the west Limerick town of Athea despite a strong recommendation to refuse planning from the council’s environment section.

A senior engineer in the section had recommended refusal, citing the negative impact the 250-foot turbines would have on the hen harrier, a protected bird under the EU Birds Directive. He said: “It is quite clear that there are a number of areas within the county which are not suitable for wind-farm developments. The Athea site appears to be one of them.”

An Taisce lodged an appeal in September against the development over the possible impact it could have on the hen harrier. The National Trust also pointed out that the conditions imposed by the council did not take into consideration the need to protect the habitat of the site or the need to protect birds from collision.

However, An Taisce has now withdrawn the appeal after negotiations with the managing director of National Windpower Ltd, Mr David Fitzgerald, allowing the development to proceed. Mr Fitzgerald is a founder member of the Limerick branch of An Taisce and resigned last month as its chairman. He remains a member of the branch committee.

An An Taisce spokesman said yesterday: “While the developer is an ex-chairman of An Taisce’s Limerick association, An Taisce’s professional officers dealt with this case exactly as they would with any developer’s proposal.” He said An Taisce had withdrawn its appeal in exchange for commitments agreed in a contract with Mr Fitzgerald, which the spokesman said were “in the best long-term interests of the environment”.

He said that along with “certain modifications to the proposal, the developer will address the principal problem of lack of hard scientific data to show the impact of wind turbines on protected species and habitats”.

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