German energy firm considers appeal over wind turbines refusal
A German renewable energy firm is expected to appeal a decision by Causeway Coast and Glens Council to refuse planning permission for six wind turbines in north Antrim.
ABO Wind sought permission to build the 150-metre structures on Croaghan Hill, close to Armoy and around five miles south of Ballycastle.
The company, which is involved in four other wind projects in Northern Ireland, said the scheme would be capable of generating just under 20MW of power.
An economic case for the wind farm also indicated it could generate £8m in business rates over 25 years, powering 27,412 homes.
ABO Wind said the project would involve spending £33m, including £1.8m in wages. It also planned to create a fund worth £1.2m for the community over 25 years.
Planning officials at Causeway Coast and Glens said the proposal was considered unacceptable at the location in the context of the local authority's area plan.
Planners raised public safety concerns over the proximity of the wind farm to homes.
They also upheld concerns from the Historic Environment Division, part of the Department for Communities, which said the proposal would "have an adverse visual impact on the integrity of the setting of Armoy Round Tower", a listed state monument.
A spokesman for the German firm told Business Telegraph: "Of course we are disappointed in the decision and we are currently reviewing our options."
ABO Wind first set up in the UK in 2006.
It moved into Northern Ireland in 2010, establishing a head office in Belfast. It is currently involved in five wind projects across Northern Ireland.
ABO Wind has already taken a number of projects to Northern Ireland's Planning Appeals Commission (PAC).
Its biggest project, a wind farm with 14 turbines at Evishagaran, near Dungiven in Co Londonderry, was eventually approved in April 2016 after the company took the case to the PAC.
The company also took its proposal to build 10 turbines at Carnalbanagh, near Glenarm in Co Antrim to the PAC.
However, the commission refused planning permission in June 2016.
At the time, ABO Wind said it was disappointed by the decision, but has made efforts to redesign the scheme to take account of landscape and visual concerns.
Another project for 12 turbines at Hilltown in Co Down (Gruggandoo) is currently being considered by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).
The firm's smallest project, Castlegore wind farm near Kells in Co Antrim, was granted planning permission in July 2015. But permission was granted only after ABO Wind reduced the scheme from six turbines to four.
The company's website summed up its experience here, stating: "Northern Ireland has a very good wind resource.
"However, continued investment in the grid is required to ensure satisfactory integration of renewable energy to the grid."