ENVIRONMENTAL campaign group, Friends of the Earth, have refused to deny or confirm whether they have submitted a letter in support of a controversial wind farm in the Sperrins.
Energy conglomerate, SSE, is proposing to erect 33 wind turbines in the scenic Doraville region, between Broughderg, Greencastle and the Glenelly Valley.
But the ambitious plans have met with strong opposition from residents in the area, who fear the wind farm would have a devastating impact on the local environment.
According to the online Planning Portal NI, a total of 1,854 objections have been submitted to the application so far, compared to just 10 comments in support.
In February this year, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) confirmed that the proposed wind farm was to be subject to a public inquiry because the application was of “regional significance”.
More recently, a number of community groups in the Sperrins have published open letters on social media urging Friends of the Earth, as a matter of urgency, to clarify whether or not it supported the Doraville Wind Farm.
A letter addressed to the international campaign group from the Broughderg Area Development Association Committee said that it was “with great dismay and sadness” that they had become aware that Friends of the Earth had submitted a support letter for the “industrial scale development”.
The correspondence stated, “How can a wind farm on this “protected habitat” be deemed as a healthy decision for the future well-being of our planet?”
In response, James Orr, the Northern Ireland director of Friends of the Earth, said that the organisation was keeping its position “under review” in relation to the Doraville wind farm application.
Mr Orr said, “Friends of the Earth believes climate change and ecological breakdown are the biggest threats to civilisation and have advocated for the transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy for years.”
He added, “We understand, however, that there can be local problems with renewable energy and we support the community’s right to oppose such developments.”
The public inquiry into the Doraville wind farm is due to open at Omagh Enterprise Centre, Gortrush Industrial Estate, on Wednesday, September 4 at 10.30am.