Westminster candidate Cadogan Enright has slammed the local Planning Service for preventing the development of renewable energy from Sliabh Croob right across the Mournes area. He point out that the National Parks report had recommended in favour of a permissive regime for local farmers and businessmen for wind-turbines, and that planning policy PPS18 was equally in favour. Large numbers of planning refusals based on “visual amenity” were stopping the creation of jobs and blocking new income sources for farmers, businesspeople and householders.
Cllr Enright was responding to local renewable energy businesses which have been repeatedly refused planning permission for wind turbines in the face of planning policy PPS18 which was designed to facilitate renewable energy.
Cadogan Enright said, “I have been approached by a number of businesses which are trying to get planning permission for wind turbines where there have been no local objections, but are being refused because of mercurial local interpretation of planning policy by officials in Downpatrick. These businesses are being made to be pay large fees to apply; they then have to wait over 16 months for a response and in the end are being refused permission because of what appears to be a local personal bias against wind turbines in the planning office not found elsewhere in NI. These installations are vital as a means of achieving N.I.’s renewable energy targets, reducing our carbon footprint, creating employment opportunities and developing revenue opportunities for local businesses.”
Castlewellan businessman Paddy Flynn said, “People applying for planning are losing out on potential income through Renewable Obligation Certificates, where they are paid for generating renewable electricity. This failure to follow correct policy is acting as an impediment to business and jobs in Down District, as well as denying local landowners an additional income stream. Green tech businesses are the future for Northern Ireland, but they can only be so if the authorities are supportive in their application of policy. ”
John Hardy of SEA said, “Even in the rare instances where permission is given, ridiculous height restrictions are being imposed, which render the projects uneconomic. Wind turbines are most efficient at heights of up to 40 metres as recommended in PPS18, yet restrictions are being placed on all applications which limit the height to 15 metres which seriously impacts the ability of the turbine to produce energy”.
Westminster Candidate Cadogan Enright said, “If the local planning authority has unilaterally decided not to apply the same rules as the rest of Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland as a whole in regards to wind turbines, then they need to inform the public as to why this is so and tell them not to waste their money making applications. Local politicians from all parties need work together to re-establish normality in planning for renewable energy in the district”.