The confluence of the Blackwater and the Bride – a beautiful site for a wind farm?
What is a Special Landscape? The problem of defining what a special landscape is leaves some of the most beautiful areas of Ireland at risk.
The Munster Blackwater, rising in Kerry, flowing through County Cork and County Waterford is arguably one of the most beautiful rivers in Ireland, a country rich with beautiful rivers. In 2014 9 wind turbines were built on the banks of the Blackwater in County Waterford. Permission had been given in 2004 with a minimal environmental impact assessment and little if any local consultation. In 2014 planning permission was sought for a further 12 at heights of 125m in the same location. A wind farm of 21 wind turbines was being planned for the banks of the Blackwater.
Planning legislation is designed to regulate the construction of buildings and other activities so as not to intrude on the interests of others but at the same time, bearing in mind local interests such as employment and amenities. This was our first exposure to planning as regulation and its impact upon ordinary people. Many objections to industrial development in rural countryside rely on the impact of the development on geology, topography, pollution and flora and fauna. It is difficult to use the argument of a special and scenic landscape as there is little agreement on what constitutes such a landscape.
The original application by Ecopower was rejected by Waterford County Council. Ecopower then appealed to An Bord Pleanála, the appeal body for local authority planning decisions. Objections to the appeal are allowed and Precepts put together the attached ‘observation’ not based on the environmental or health impact of the development, others were better able to do that, but upon the impact on a precious asset – the special and scenic landscape of the Blackwater. Download our discussion paper on the special landscape.