CAUSEWAY Coast and Glens Borough Council has overturn a decision by Planners to refuse a wind turbine on Rathlin Island.
During a recent Planning Service meeting, members were informed about a request by Rathlin Development and Community Association for the erection of a wind turbine with a 30m hub height and a 30m rotor diameter with a maximum output not exceeding 250kw. It was revealed that the turbine would be located on the west of the island between Church Bay and the West Lighthouse and within the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Planning Officer Shane Mathers explained that a site visit had been held and planners were of the opinion to refuse the application due to the visual impact of the turbine and the affect of this on tourism assets.
In response Rathlin Development and Community Association spokesperson David Quinney Mee and their Agent David Dalzell outlined the history of Rathlin Island explaining the community need and benefits of the turbine as well as the improvements to island life for both residents and tourists.
Mr Dalzell highlighted that the application was a “way forward” for the community to be more self sufficient adding that no objections have been received and that 13 statutory bodies had been involved in the seven year project.
Mr Quinney Mee continued that the turbine would be a “game changer” for the islanders and was a “proactive way for the residents to improve their economy and reduce their carbon footprint.” He concluded: “It’s not a stand alone structure but a chance to see Rathlin standing on their own.”
Following a question from alderman Sam Cole about a tourism impact assessment, Mr Quinney Mee said that a development survey had been carried out. He explained: “Over 400 visitors filled out the form in three weeks, 95% were in favour of the wind turbine.”
Councillor Barney Fitzpatrick highlighted that there was already turbines on the island, however Mr Quinney Mee explained that there were small turbines in the early 1990s which were functional for a while but were now derelict towers. After another question from councillor Fitzpatrick about profit, Mr Quinney Mee added that in 2007 the NIE had installed under sea cables and so the money the turbine generated would go back into the community.
Councillor Padrig McShane concluded: “Does the visual impact outweigh the social sustainability of the island? This is not just about profit but social development. I think we should take one for Rathlin and help them develop themselves and reject the recommendation of planners.”
Councillor Mark Fielding seconded the proposal.