The Mid Ulster District Council has said its decision to refuse planning permission for a wind farm in the Sperrins while approving a second near Fivemiletown, demonstrates its ‘balanced’ approach to such projects.
The decision to refuse eight wind turbines next to Davagh Forest came during the same meeting on Tuesday night which approved seven turbines on Murley Mountain near Fivemiletown.
The proposal, centred around The Stanley Bell and Sons Ltd Quarry between Lissan and Broughderg, attracted a huge public backlash, with more than 1,500 people registering their opposition.
Located close to the popular Davagh Forest, Lough Fea and Beaghmore Stone Circles, a number of the turbines would have fallen inside the Sperrins Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
A report by planners revealed that 1,523 objections were registered, including 321 letter. No letters of support were received.
The Planning Committee approved a recommendation to refuse on the grounds of its unacceptable impact on neighbouring residents, on the visual amenity and landscape character of the area, as well as on its wider archaeological heritage.
However the greenlight was given for another wind farm near Fivemiletown, representing a substantial increase in wind turbines on another scenic Co Tyrone mountain range.
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has already approved two turbines as part of the Murley Wind Farm. Now, Mid Ulster Council’s approval will see RES (Renewable Energy Systems) add a total of nine to its large portfolio in Co Tyrone.
The global company is currently involved in 11 wind farm projects around the county at various stages of development.
RES currently has 20 turbines operating between Fintona and Fivemiletown at Lendrum’s Bridge. Another eight are being progressed nearby at ‘Hunter’s Hill’, which is on the same landscape.
Speaking after Tuesday’s meeting, chair of the Planning Committee, Cllr Cathal Mallaghan, said, “We are in favour of renewable energy proposals in the right place and the decision-making shows that, where conditions allow, wind farms can be accommodated.
“Our overriding consideration will always be environmental protection and the outcome of the committee’s deliberations demonstrates a balanced approach to the issues.”