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‘Historic and ancient landscape must be protected’

THE chief planning officer for Mid-Ulster Council has expressed serious concerns about the impact of a 33-turbine wind farm near Broughderg on the historic landscape of the Sperrins.

Speaking at a public inquiry into the plans by SSE Renewables, Dr Chris Bloomer, said the proposal would turn an “historic and ancient area” into an industrial one.

“The entire ridgeline of the mountains will be dominated by turbines and blades if this goes ahead in an area which dates back thousands of years,” he said.

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“Mid-Ulster Council feels that this historic and ancient landscape is worth preserving. In our view, it is not too much to ask to preserve just one bit of the Northern Ireland skyline.”

Dr Bloomer further pointed out that the Sperrins landscape needed to be viewed and experienced completely, adding that one feature could not be separated from another within it.

Sean Clarke, chairman of Broughderg Area Development Association, described the area around Doraville and the Beaghmore Stone circles as the “cradle of Irish civilisation.”

“This is a crucial part of the local community and the surrounding communities. At Beaghmore, you are looking at the cradle of Irish civilisation stretching back at least 4,000 years,” he said.

“It is an unrivalled and unequalled landscape, a world heritage site.

“This is reality and not some Mickey Mouse situation where you believe that this landscape can easily absorb a wind farm of the scale being planned.”

Mr Clarke added that new archaeological features were being discovered every year, and that the true extent of the area’s historic importance had still not been fully uncovered.

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Andrew Gault from the Department for Communities highlighted that the area had an important concentration of prehistoric archaeological sites, a significant number of which were under ‘Protected’ or State Care and were of regional significance.

Commissioner Julie de-Courcey said that she would be visiting many of the sites identified by both SSE Renewables, the Department for Communities and the local community to assess the potential impact that the wind farm would have on them.

SEE THIS WEEK’S TYRONE HERALD FOR FULL COVERAGE FROM THE PUBLIC INQUIRY.

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