Planners have been accused of riding roughshod over a community whose long running campaign against a wind farm development in Loughgiel has finally ended in defeat.
Opponents of the project have waged an 18-month battle against the erection of nine turbines at Altaveedan insisting that it would be harmful to the area and citing a number of objections to support their argument.
However, at a meeting of Ballymoney Borough Council last week, the plan was formally approved by the Planners and the council, but not before a barrage of criticism emerged from some councillors in the presence of eight people who sat in silence in the public gallery.
The application by RES UK and Ireland represents a major investment in the Loughgiel area. Public exhibitions were held to bring the plan to the attention of the community andlocal representatives and a full environmental statement was prepared examining a range of issues before being submitted to the Planning Service.
RES have paid out £100,000 to boost community funds in the Loughgiel area as well as offering a possible discount of £200 to 250 homes but that cut little ice with the objectors who mounted a robust campaign to have the plan turned down.
However a senior planning officer, Stephen Hamilton, insisted that all submissions had been given careful consideration by the Department and a detailed consultative programme had been undertaken .
He said they had recognised the genuine concerns by the Residents’ Group and the Orra Action Group but, the application had met all the policy requirements and as a result an approval had been recommended.
Chief Executive, John Dempsey, read a letter from local MP, Ian Paisley, who said that generally he was in favour of wind turbines as alternative sources of energy and that “I wish no further delay and ask that it be approved.”