Head of planning in Mid Ulster to be asked to council over wind turbine

Wind turbine

Wind turbine

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Cookstown council are to invite Mid Ulster’s head of planning to their last meeting, over a controversial wind turbine application.

The decision was made after Councillor Wilson drew his colleagues’ attention to the planning request, which he said had been approved twice by council, only to be later pulled by planners.

It is understood that the application for a wind turbine at JJ Loughran’s premises on the Drum Road, first went before council last November.

At the council’s February 10 meeting, UUP councillor Trevor Wilson described the situation as ‘highly unusual’, and was supported in questioning why JJ Loughran’s case was not “brought back to the meeting” as promised, by SDLP councillor James Garvey.

Cllr. Garvey told those present: “I have been on this council for 30 years and this is the first time that two approvals have been refused.”

Questioning whether this was “fair play”, he added: “I think this man has been discriminated against by planners.”

At the meeting, a spokeswoman for planning told council that Chris Boomer [head planner] was now involved, adding: “I can only apologise that it did not come back within a month.”

Sinn Fein’s Cllr Mallaghan said there were objectors to the wind turbine, while Cllr McNamee said he was aware of one other time when an application had been pulled twice.

In response to the Mail’s questions, Department of the Environment [DOE] said: “The application was removed from the schedule following a meeting with local elected representatives, who on behalf of neighbouring residents raised issues around a number of amenity and public safety issues, which in DOE’s view need further assessment.

“The department is willing to consider any representations which the council wish to make either for or against this proposal before reaching a decision.”

A spokesman for JJ Loughran, an electrical and mechanical engineering company, said: “JJ Loughran is disappointed at how protracted the planning process has become for this application despite the extensive supporting information provided to date.

“We have been an employer in the Mid Ulster area for nearly 47 years and we currently employ 50 full time staff at our Drum Road site.

“The addition of a wind turbine at our engineering facility would not only help safeguard current employment levels and reduce our carbon footprint but allow for future growth by reducing and stabilising our electricity costs which are a very significant overhead for us.”