Confusion over turbines plans

Confusion over turbines plans

2 November 2011

LOCAL politicians are seeking a meeting with senior planning officials to discuss applications for wind turbines across the district.

Two applications for new turbines in the Ballynahinch and Drumaness areas

were  recommended for refusal at Monday night's meeting of Down Council, while an application for a turbine in the Raffrey area was approved.

Councillor Eamonn O'Neill said it is important talks are held with senior planners to understand the criteria which is applied when it comes to determining applications for wind turbines.

"We require clarity around this particular issue and it's important the Planning Service outlines it's exact position when it comes to determining these applications," he continued.

"Members of the public also need to know what's going on with regard to wind turbine applications."

Council chairman Dermot Curran said it is clear an increasing number of applications for wind turbines across the district are now being lodged with planners.

"Clarity on the criteria used to make a determination on them would be extremely helpful for all of us," he added.

Councillor Éamonn Mac Con Midhe said it is his understanding there is no definitive planning policy on the erection of wind turbines.

He said applications for turbines to provide power for domestic properties are dealt with locally by staff at the Planning Service's Rathkeltair House headquarters in Downpatrick.

"Applications for commercial wind turbines which are connected to the national grid are dealt with by planners in Belfast," he added.

Councillor John Doris said he would like to know if any direction can be given to elected representatives about what size of wind turbines are acceptable.

Planning official, Annette McAlarney, said nothing has been defined about what size of wind turbines are acceptable, suggesting 15 metre high masts are easier to integrate into the landscape than turbines which are 30 or 40 metres in height.