Ramblers cleared to challenge Co Antrim wind farm

The proposed wind farm of seven 100 metre-high turbines is at Ballykeel, near Larne
The proposed wind farm of seven 100 metre-high turbines is at Ballykeel, near Larne

A ramblers body has won High Court permission to challenge the decision to approve construction of a wind farm in the Antrim Hills.

The Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs was granted leave to seek a judicial review of planning permission for installation in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Under the scheme seven 100-metre-high turbines will be built at Ballykeel, near Larne.

A company behind the project was given the green-light following a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Council’s planning committee last December.

The federation, which promotes hill-walking and appreciation of the countryside, objects to the wind farm.

It claims that the turbines will have a visual impact on the landscape.

Federation chairman Graham Seymour is now challenging the legality of the granting of planning permission.

His barrister argued that processes were not properly followed, with insufficient opportunity for debate.

Nicolas Hanna QC questioned the level of notice given of the planning meeting on the council’s website.

“(Mr Seymour) was not given any reasonable opportunity to be present at the meeting or to seek speaking rights,” he said.

Mr Hanna also disclosed that a planning officer had recommended that the council refuse the application.

He contended this was based on the potential adverse impact on the landscape.

According to his case the reasons for going against that recommendation were not properly set out.

Following submissions Mr Justice Maguire ruled that an arguable case worthy of further examination had been established.

Granting leave to seek a judicial review, the judge listed proceedings for a further mention in September.