MEA Council ‘rubber stamps’ planning appeals

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Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s planning committee has voted to accept the DOE’s decisions on contentious planning appeals made before April 1.

While planning powers transferred to the supercouncil on April 1, the new council does not have the power to change decisions made by the DOE prior to that date and has been left to simply “rubber stamp” the decisions.

A council report warned of the “possible award of costs if council withdraw refusal reasons or do not defend the appeals.”

Currently, eleven planning appeals have transferred to the new Council and more could follow.

These include windfarms at Killyglen and Carnalbanagh, an apartment development at Drains Bay and an application for a skip business/waste transfer and erection of a building at the junction of the Ballylig and Shore Roads.

Jurisdiction for these cases now rests with the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC).

Developers Apamore Services Ltd have lodged an appeal over their five-turbine windfarm application between Mullaghsandall Road and Starbog Road at Killyglen, which was refused in July 2014.

The original application was refused amid 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 the impact on the AONB, noise and the 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.

Meanwhile, developer ABO Wind NI Ltd’s plans for a ten-turbine windfarm in Carnalbanagh attracted 14 objection letters and was recommended for refusal by the DOE due to its impact on the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Concerns included the impact on tourism and Slemish mountain, noise, detrimental ecological impacts and adverse impact on visual amenity and landscape character.

The Drains bay apartment application was refused as planners felt it would “further erode the rural character of the countryside” and could add to pollution. The skip business/waste transfer application at Ballylig Road was refused amid concerns over its impact on the environment and on archaeological and built heritage interest.

The PAC is currently considering whether to overturn the decisions.