Developers whose windfarm application at Killyglen was refused have lodged an appeal claiming it will bring £10 million to the economy.
The proposal by Apamore Services Ltd for a five-turbine windfarm between Mullaghsandall Road and Starbog Road was refused planning permission last July.
The planning service cited concerns over “unacceptable adverse impact on visual amenity and landscape character,” as well as the impact on natural heritage, historic monuments and buildings, areas of significant archaeological interest and local tourism assets.
Planners also feared that the proposal would not be “sympathetic to the special character” of the AONB, would generate noise and impact upon active peatland, biodiversity and conservation interests.
However, in a newly-published addendum to the original environmental statement, agent RPS revealed proposals to reposition three of the turbines, the substation, internal roads and construction compounds as well as the access location.
One turbine has been repositioned 332.4m further southeast, another 641.84m further southeast and a third 101.69m further southwest on the site. The proposed substation has been moved 641.84m southeast while the northern access location has been relocated 500m towards the southeast along Mullaghsandall Road. One temporary construction compound has been moved 310m souteast while the other has been repositioned 710m northeast.
The report says this will separate them from breeding bird sites, minimising watercourse crossings and the impact on sensitive vegetation areas.
It states there will be no significant impact on the ASSI of Knock Dhu and Sallagh Brae, active peatlands, nature conservation sites or on protected species.
It estimates that overall capital spend during construction will reach around £20 million, with around £10.1 million being spent in Northern Ireland. It predicts a total fiscal benefit of £2.23-2.86 million during construction and £6.39-7.76 million over the project’s lifetime, with the local District Council receiving increased rates revenue between £1.5-£6.38 million over the 25 year project lifetime.
Electricity production is estimated at 34.7-42 million units (34,700-42,000 MWh) per year, meeting the needs of 8,200-12,700 homes. The addendum suggests that the influence on the AONB would be “limited” but admits that “significant visual impacts will occur for the Ulster Way where it passes immediately adjacent to the proposed site.”
The report claims many windfarms are a tourist attraction and the proposal could encourage more use of the Ulster Way.
However, Larne Lough Councillor Gregg McKeen says that he is concerned the proposed Killyglen windfarm could dissuade TV companies from filming in the local area due to its impact on the natural landscape.
Cllr McKeen commented: “We are trying to promote Larne and the Gobbins as a tourism destination and you have to think of the natural visual impact.
“Wind turbines would take away from the scenic aspect of this area.
“HBO and Game of Thrones are filming in this area. Are they going to come and film a scene in an environment with a windfarm?
“There is a potential loss of revenue if wind turbines become the backdrops.”