Massive wind farm in Offaly gets the go ahead – Offaly Express

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Massive wind farm gets planning approval in Offaly
Camilla McLoughlin
5 Sept 2021
AN Bord Pleanala has given a ten year permission for a wind farm consisting of 21 wind turbines at Derrinlough and other townlands in Offaly. 
The turbines will be arranged in two clusters across two bog sites, Clongawny Bog to the west of the N62 and Drinagh Bog to the east; both are part of the Boora peat production bog group in Co. Offaly. 
Approximately 29.3 km of access road will be constructed within the site including the upgrade of 450m of existing access road.
The application in the name of Bord na Mona Powergen Ltd had attracted 17 submissions. These had concerns in relation to the noise levels associated with the proposal and the potential cumulative impacts when taken in conjunction with the existing Meenwaun and proposed Cloghan wind farms. 

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The submissions expressed concerns about noise issues with the Meenwaun wind farm and the potential for wake effects. They were anxious about the visual impact of the development and the overall height of the proposed turbines relative to those existing and permitted in the area. The Impacts on residential amenity and property values and the fear of being surrounded by turbines were among other concerns.
The site is located approximately 2km south of the village of Cloghan and 3.4km east of Banagher in Co. Offaly. It comprises a large area of ground (2,360ha) which is encircled by regional roads to the north, west, and east  and by a series of local roads to the south. 
The 21 wind turbines will have an overall blade tip height of 185m. The development also includes two permanent anemometry masts up to a height of 120m and the development of two permanent underpasses in the townland of Derrinlough, one located beneath the N62 and one beneath an existing Bord Na Mona rail line. 
In reaching its decision the Board said it had regard to the national policy including the Climate Action Plan 2019, in relation to the development of alternative and indigenous energy sources and the minimisation of emissions from greenhouse gases.
The Board considered that the environmental impact assessment report carried out by itself and supported by the documentation submitted by the applicant, adequately considers alternatives to the proposed development and identifies and describes sufficiently the direct, indirect, secondary and cumulative effects of the proposed development on the environment. 
The Board concluded that ‘’habitat loss associated with construction will impact on habitats of generally low ecological value with no rare or protected species recorded.’’
It said that localised visual impacts will occur primarily from intermittent sections of the local roads in proximity to the site and from local properties. 
Impacts to surface water and groundwater would be mitigated by the implementation of the measures set out in the environmental impact assessment report and the construction and environment management plan. 
The Board stated that the main impacts to traffic will occur during construction stage which it said will ‘’be short-term and temporary.’’
It is considered that subject to compliance with the conditions set out by the Board the proposed development would accord with European, national, and regional planning and related policy. It would not seriously injure the visual or residential amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity, would not have an unacceptable impact on the landscape or ecology, would not pose a risk to water quality and would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience. The proposed development would, therefore, be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, the Board concluded.

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