Proposed Sperrins wind farm like something out of ‘War of the Worlds’ says MLA

SSE image for illustrative purposes only and are not presented at the correct size for realistic viewing
SSE image for illustrative purposes only and are not presented at the correct size for realistic viewing

A planning request for a 36-turbine wind farm in the Sperrins will now go to the next stage following submission of the requested Environmental Assessment.

To date there have been no official objections to the ambitious project, despite Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone saying it would damage the “area of outstanding natural beauty”.

He told the Mail he recently held a meeting to give objectors a chance to share their views on the project with Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.

“We met about three or four weeks ago,” he said.

“People presented their concerns about it. It’s a beautiful area with a long history of culture - a really nice and pleasant area.”

Mr McGlone said he did not know “how these massive constructions - which look like something out HG Wells’ War of the Worlds - will not alter the landscape”.

“The concerns were around the legacy, culture, landscape and the tourism aspect of the area,” he added.

“To change it from this beautiful landscape and this beautiful area that you would really want to come to... it would be an awful shame.”

SSE said plans for its Doraville Wind Farm, which will cost in the region of £150m, have been scaled back from 42 to 36 turbines after consultations with 300 local people - the results of which have also been submitted to officials.

The company said it has also revised the turbine layout in an effort to avoid “impacting on the most sensitive views”.

If the wind farm is passed, SSE projects that £50m can be secured by NI businesses, with £15.6m going to local firms in the North West.

SSE also said the investment will create 427 Job Years during construction, with 129 of those in the local area.

And that once operational, the farm could power up to 85,000 homes, will generate £28.8m in rates payments in addition to £15m in community fund awards.

A spokesperson for DOE, which is considering the project, said the planning application was first received by the department in June 2015, but after receipt of the Environmental Statement on December 7, it will now be formally processed.

An unrelated planning request for seven wind turbines in the Sperrins, near Mullaghturk, was turned down by Mid Ulster District Council in May.

At the time, Planning Committee Chair, Martin Kearney, said: “Wind farms continue to cause strong reactions in rural areas.

“However, we will be addressing the wider issue of renewable energy as part of our development plan.”