Windfarm could power 11,000 homes

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A proposed windfarm with the potential to provide enough power for 11,000 homes has been approved by a council committee.

On Thursday, members of Mid & East Antrim Council’s planning committee accepted a recommendation by Planners to approve the application by ABO Wind for a four turbine wind farm on land at Whappstown and Castlegore, Kells.

A senior planner said the application had been subject to a number of reductions and amendments since first being submitted in 2011. He explained that while the majority of the site, which is some 10km south east of Ballymena is within Mid & East Antrim where three of the turbines are proposed, part of the site also falls within the Antrim & Newtownabbey borough, where one turbine is proposed for siting. Therefore, he said, the application would also have to be considered by that authority.

The planner also stated that 29 letters of objection had been received to-date in respect of the application and that all had been “thoroughly considered”. The application also attracted 11 letters of support.

The planner said that more than 30 separate bodies had provided independent advice in the consultation process and stated: “no issues have been identified that cannot be mitigated through planning conditions”

Tamsin Fraser, Head of Development for applicant ABO Wind told the meeting the proposal represented “an excellent opportunity” to extend two operational windfarms and said it had the potential to provide electricity for 11,000 homes which represented 20% of all homes in the MEA borough.

Councillors also heard that a total of £33m investment was associated with the development and that a community fund of £1.43m could be made available over the 25-year lifetime of the project.

Local resident and businessman Roy McKeown, who owns Raceview Mill in Broughshane, told the planning committee this would help support his plan for the creation of a ‘Slemish and Glens Interpretative Centre.

Councillors agreed the Department’s recommendation to approve the application subject to the necessary attached conditions by eight votes for and one against on the proposal of Cr Beth Adger.