Trend noted with wind turbines in countryside

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

THERE is a trend of wind turbines to the west of Rathfriland and to the west of Kinallen, according to council.

These areas have a "medium level of concentration of wind energy development" according to council analysis.

They have looked at all planning decisions issued for single turbines since 2002-2016 as part of the local development plan and found these areas have proved popular for wind turbine investment.

From 2002-2004 there were only four approvals for wind turbines and there was a marked increase in 2005, when there were 10 approvals.

This continued to increase at a steady level until 2009 when there was a sharp decline, which could have been "due to the recession" according to council.

“There was a noticeable increase in 2010 to over double the number of wind energy developments compared to the previous year, and this number continued to rise until its peak in 2013.

“This particularly large increase in the number of planning decisions for wind turbines in 2013 could be attributed to a drive by the DOE to prioritise decisions on all renewable energy applications," a council spokesman said.

“Since 2013 there has been a steady level of decisions for wind energy developments leading up until 2015, after which, numbers dramatically declined."

Council says the closure of the NI Renewables obligation to new onshore wind in 2016, "could have a negative impact on the renewable energy sector".

They say this downward trend may be also linked to "uncertainties over network infrastructure, operating incentives and the costs of installing this technology all of which are beyond the control of planning policy".

The council now has to formulate policy which "should reflect differences in the area including the ability of landscapes to absorb development and striking a balance between protection of the environment from inappropriate development, while supporting and sustaining rural communities".


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