By Joe Barrett
Laois County Council has refused planning permission for the construction of eight wind turbines just outside Mountmellick.
In February last year Statkraft Ireland sought planning permission for eight wind turbines measuring 185 meters in height and a 110 meter high meteorological mast in the areas of Dernacart, Upper Forest and Lower Forest.
There had been strong resistance locally from many residents on health, noise, environmental and property devaluation grounds.
Laois County Council planners declined to grant permission because of the effect the development may have on a bat species in the area.
In it’s reason for refusing permission the planning authority said: “In relation to the impact of the proposed development on bat species, the planning authority notes that six of the proposed turbines are located in high areas of activity for multiple bat species and the remaining two are placed in moderate/high areas of activity.
“This means that there is a high likelihood of a direct mortality of sensitive protected species through collision and barotrauma events.
“There is insufficient detail provided with respect to the bat population effect calculations and there is no evidence of an attempt made to alter the location of the turbines to accommodate a lower impact threshold.
“Impacts to bats are therefore identified to be significant and this is viewed to be a critical shortcoming of the assessment process.
“The proposed development would therefore have the potential to seriously injure the habitat value of the area and be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.