Concern over turbine plan

COUNCILLORS have expressed concern over an application to build an electricity generator in the Ballyrobert area.

The planning application for a microelectric, renewable energy system in the Ballylinney, which is a tributary of the Sixmilewater, was approved at the Monday, August 13, council meeting.

The plan would see a turbine built which would use water from the tributary to generate electric for a property on the Ballylinney Road and any surplus power to the national grid.

Alderman Paul Girvan said he was concerned at the potential impact on the local environment.

He said: “There is a potential that this could be to the detriment to the numbers of small fish fry in the river.

“I would not wish to put this application off, but rather look to ensure that there are measures in place that would protect the wildlife.

“I would also be concerned that the applicant needs a licence for the amount of water the system takes from the river.

“Here we have a chicken-and-egg situation where they need a licence, which they may not get, but they are being allowed to build the structure first.

“There are regular concerns like this around planning issues when applications are submitted but do not have all the elements in place and it is with reluctance that this application should be approved.”

Planning Service representative Adam Smith said: “There are two elements to this plan: firstly, the actual structure to be built and how it fits in with the landscape.

“Although we do give significant weight to renewable-energy applications.

“And secondly, we consult with the Department for Culture Arts and Leisure and the fisheries department to determine the impact on the area’s wildlife.

“With this proposal, the grills are closer spaced together than the actual guidance recommends.

“Also there is issues with the water abstraction - the amount of water drawn - and if this will impact on the wildlife and the applicant will need a licence for that.

“From our consultations with DCAL and the fisheries there is no concerns around the wildlife.

“And in terms of the licence for the water abstraction that will need to be obtained by the applicant. But that is outside of our remit, we can only examine and determine these applications on the information we are provided with and based on our own guidelines.”