Say no to the "giants" in Hilltown

Peter Bayne

Reporter:

Peter Bayne

Email:

peter.bayne@newrydemocrat.com

This week’s national papers run with a Discover Northern Ireland campaign about the “magical Mournes” and “embrace a giant spirit”…

However there is no mention of the “giants” that are threatening our unique landscape.. ABO Wind Turbines.

As you may be aware, receipt of the amended ABO Wind planning application and environmental statement was in the local press two weeks ago. Almost six years on since a first application was made, the multinational wind energy company have returned to their interests in the Mourne Mountains. This third ​amendment reduces the number of turbines from the initial 12 to the second attempt of 10 to now 8, however they will be much larger turbines of 142.5m as opposed to 125m, to be sited in Grugandoo, Mulgariff Road, off Rostrevor Road in the Crotleive area of the Mourne Area of Outstanding Area (AONB).

Mourne AONB Against Windfarms group have been actively opposing the application since its beginnings in January 2015. The same reasons for objection still exist and apply today. With the media reports that these industrial scale wind farms are paid money from every electric bill to not generate energy, we are further concerned as to the future protections of the AONB. There may be 8 turbines today but if approved this will open the door for further extensions to the wind farm or others. In response the previous amended application, the Senior Planning Officer for Newry, Mourne and Down stated they “couldn’t think of a more inappropriate site for a Wind Farm”.

The applicant is again attempting to industrialize the Mournes and then reap the profits. Their website claims ‘Northern Ireland is attractive to investors’ in reference to the value of the natural environmental assets. We will reap the consequences of not only the everlasting damage to our landscape and heritage but the impacts on health of light flicker and infrasound not to mention dropping property values.

The amendment comes at a time when the Mourne Mountains have seen an unprecedented volume of visitors and hill-walkers looking to experience the unique breath-taking natural beauty of this corner of the world. Discover NI have gone to painstaking lengths promoting the natural beauty of the area to attract visitors. The recent ‘Covid Lockdown’ has given people a greater appreciation of AONBs, evident by the increased footfall. We strongly believe in the protection of our unique AONB and this development does not subscribe to the Council's own tourism strategy nor that of Tourism NI.

Given the scale of the application, Newry, Mourne and Down Councillors will be consulted and it will be decided upon at a forthcoming Council meeting. We are communicating with all Newry, Mourne and Down Councillors to ascertain if they will stand up for tourism, for Crotlieve and the Mourne AONB by opposing the application. How will your local Councillor vote?

Can you help our fight against the industrialization of the Mournes? Please send your objection to planning@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk quoting planning reference: P/2015/0218/F on or before Wednesday 6th October. If you need any help please call Francis Quinn (077 4042 2616) or Rosaleen Brannigan (028 4063 1088) or contact the group through Facebook at Mourne AONB Against Windfarms.

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