Belfast Telegraph

Fury at windfarm beautyspot plan

A stunning location near where the fantasy drama Game of Thrones was filmed could soon be spoiled by a windfarm, campaigners in Northern Ireland said.

Remote and beautiful Binevenagh Mountain overlooks the North Coast. A proposal to site 21 wind turbines on it has caused fury among some local business owners. A campaign has been launched to halt the proposed development close to Castlerock.

Games of Thrones was shot on the nearby Blue Flag Downhill beach.

A spokesman for the the Binevenagh SOS campaign said: " The idea of putting an industrial wind farm in the middle of an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and one of the jewels of the North Coast beggars belief.

"Northern Ireland is seen as a soft touch by wind farm developers as AONBs here have little environmental protection compared with the rest of the UK."

One of the most memorable scenes in HBO's Game of Thrones series was filmed nearby at Downhill, known in the programme as the 'Beach of Dragonstone', where Melisandre burnt the old gods.

The beach featured recently in a New York Times travel guide to the programme's filming locations.

Local residents and businesses, concerned that the development will destroy the area's natural beauty and tourism industry, have come together to form the Binevenagh SOS campaign to fight the proposal.

The spokesman added: "Northern Ireland has been billed as a place to come and film and that is based on our wild coastline and the beautiful locations and this proposal just flies in the face of that.

"It is bang in the middle of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which is promoted as a tourist attraction.

"It just seems crazy to threaten all that."

Developers ARC NI 1 Ltd have submitted a planning application for 21 turbines of 3.3 MW output each at the Windy Hill site on the Bishops Road.

The firm has highlighted the benefits for the local economy as well as the renewable energy generated.

The scheme jeopardises the future of the Ulster Gliding Centre, which has been in existence since 1930, which said the turbines would increase air turbulence.

The spectacular cliffs of Binevenagh and the shore of Lough Foyle are known as one of the best soaring sites for gliders in the British Isles and Ireland.

Jay Nethercott, chairman of the centre, said: "When the wind comes from a certain direction, we won't be able to fly, it's as simple as that. This proposal threatens the entire future of the club and a significant part of Ulster's aviation heritage."

He said gliding was an important part of the tourism industry and added users and pilots of light aircraft would not be attracted to the area if the windfarm received the go-ahead.

A spokesman for the Windyfields Group, the parent company for the developers, said the cost of construction of the project is expected to be in the region of £70 million, of which Northern Ireland could receive approximately £20 million.

"An investment of this scale would provide a much-needed boost for the local construction sector as well as the Limavady, Coleraine and greater North Coast area which has been badly hit by the economic downturn," he said.

"Windyfields is committed to investing in and supporting the local economy to ensure economic benefits of these types of projects are felt locally.

"We have been working closely with the families of local landowners involved and are greatly encouraged by their support and commitment to this project which should benefit many people across the area.

"This application will be subject to rigorous scrutiny by Planning Service and all statutory consultees. Our application and accompanying environmental impact assessment will be available for anyone to review."

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