Some of the Delvin Raharney Ballivor Wind Action Group committee members (from left): Paul McKeon, Conor Milligan, Michelle Farrelly, Vincent Cunningham, Daryl Kennedy, Seamus Goonery, Mark Clune.

Bracklyn Wind Farm go-ahead from An Bord Pleanala

Plans for the controversial Bracklyn Wind Farm which would see nine 185m turbines erected in the Coolronan, Ballivor, and Delvin area have been given the green light by An Bord Pleanala.

Campaigners against the wind farm are now considering their next steps and say they fully intend to challenge this decision.

Bracklyn Windfarm Ltd lodged their planning application for a nine-turbine wind farm on lands at Coolronan and Ballivor in Meath and Ballagh, Billistown, Ballinacor, and Bracklyn, in Westmeath with an Board Pleanala last October. Bracklyn Windfarm Ltd is a subsidiary of Galetech Energy Group.

The plans met huge opposition locally with over 150 residents attended local meetings organised by the Delvin Raharney Ballivor Wind Action Group. Some 21 third party submissions were made to Bord Pleanala on the plans.

A major concern for locals was the visual impact the windfarm would have on the flat landscape, with the proposed turbines of 185m making them the highest in the country. Other concerns included health and safety considerations, road and traffic issues, water and drainage, noise and shadow flicker, devaluation of property, impact on biodiversity and impact on cultural heritage. It was also argued in submissions that there was no meaningful consultation and that the proposal was premature pending the formal adoption of the 2019 wind farm guidelines.

In granting permission in line with the inspector's report, the board ruled: "The proposed development would make a positive contribution to Ireland's national strategic policy on renewable energy and its move to a low energy carbon future, would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area, and would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience" and would therefore be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

A ten-year planning permission has been granted for the construction of the wind farm with a 30-year operational period from the date of first commissioning of the wind farm.

Daryl Kennedy of the DRB Wind Action Group said as well as nine 185m turbines, the proposal also includes the felling of 70 acres of forestry, a substation of 622sq metres, 6.3km of underground cabling, as well as access tracks, roads and thousands of tonnes of concrete. He added that the totality of the planning permission allows for the windfarm to be in operation until 2062.

"This decision by An Bord Pleanála will therefore change our local landscape for life, essentially. We see this as the wrong renewable energy technology in the wrong location and we intend to fully challenge this decision. It is of the wrong scale and proportion relative to our rural flat landscape," he said.

Community meetings will be organised over the coming weeks to decide on the next steps in their campaign against the development. The main avenue open to campaigners to appeal the decision would be to seek a judicial review.