Whitehead Golf Club to appeal wind turbine plan refusal

A mock-up of how the proposed turbine would look viewed from the Blagh Hole.  INLT 04-651-CON

A mock-up of how the proposed turbine would look viewed from the Blagh Hole. INLT 04-651-CON

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An appeal has been lodged after plans to erect a wind turbine at a scenic beauty spot overlooking Whitehead and Islandmagee were rejected.

Whitehead Golf Club’s application to erect a 41.9m high, 150kw turbine at McCrae’s Brae was narrowly voted down by Mid and East Antrim Council’s planning committee meeting back in November, with some members fearing it could have a detrimental visual impact on the surrounding area.

The council’s decision – by five votes to four – came despite a recommendation for approval by planners.

Faced with dwindling membership, the golf club has high hopes that the turbine could provide a vital source of income to help ensure its survival.

And in a last ditch bid to save the project, the club has taken its case to the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC).

Robin Patrick, honorary secretary, told the Times: “Our initial application was for a 45.5m turbine, but planners expressed some concerns with this so we amended the application to reduce the height of the turbine.

“Planners were happy with this, so we were obviously very disappointed that the council decided to overturn the recommendation for approval.

“This project has been five years in the making, so it is frustrating when we jump through hoops and the goalposts keep getting moved.”

The application brought in more than 1000 objections, with the primary concern being the visual impact the structure could have on the landscape.

Responding to the views of objectors, Mr Patrick said: “Wind turbines are very subjective things and this has proven to be an emotive subject.

“Critics are entitled to their position, but we have been part of this community for over 100 years, we attract tourists and we provide employment in the area.

“We hope our appeal will be successful. If not, it is difficult to see what else we could do. But we will have that discussion if and when the time comes.”

Meanwhile, campaigners have claimed the proposed wind turbine at McCrae’s Brae would “stick out like a sore thumb”.

Whitehead resident Tommy Mahood said: “If the PAC overturns the decision and the application is granted, it will have a lifespan of 25 years.

“That would be a terrible legacy to leave behind for the people of Whitehead.”

Another objector, Austin Jenkins, said the turbine would have “no benefits for the people of Whitehead” and claimed the structure would be a “blot on the landscape”.

He added: “Councillors were correct to turn down the application, as it would have had a detrimental visual impact on the area.

“A lot of people in Whitehead have made it clear they don’t want this turbine, as evidenced by the wealth of objections. There were so many that the Planning Service actually asked us to stop submitting objections.

“I know quite a few members of the golf club have also objected to the plans. I would call on the club to give up on this appeal.”