The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has submitted an objection to An Bord Pleanala against Bord na Móna’s proposed Derryadd 24-turbine wind farm in the heart of the proposed Shannon Wilderness Park in Co. Longford. The IWT is not opposed to wind energy generation, which is necessary to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets, but we are increasingly concerned that turbines are being inappropriately located, especially on peatland habitats. In particular, the presence of turbines can be at odds with biodiversity protection, the restoration of which is equally as important as addressing climate change.
In this case it is proposed to install 24-turbines across the proposed Shannon Wilderness Park, a community initiative with the backing of Longford County Council. This plan envisages the creation of a new, restored peatland landscape that has the potential to be a haven for wildlife and a unique tourist/amenity attraction. For many ecologists this was the perfect site for the reintroduction of long-extinct Irish birds such as crane and bittern, while it was hoped that white-tailed sea eagles (breeding in some western counties) would colonise the shores of Lough Ree. A bank of turbines however is totally incompatible with these goals and would effectively negate any sense of unique identity which would be essential for the success of the Wilderness Park. Large, migratory birds are the most at risk from collision with turbines according to BirdLife International [i] and this project would effectively rule out any reintroduction of these charismatic species.
In addition to the foregone ecological opportunity that will result were this development to proceed, the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) indicates that no less than nine red-listed wintering bird species, six species listed on Annex I of the Birds Directive, and seven red-listed breeding species are potentially impacted by this project. These include some of our most threatened breeding birds such as Curlew, Golden Plover and Lapwing. Whooper Swans, of which Ireland has an internationally important proportion of the world population in winter, were ‘regularly’ recorded from the site according to the EIAR. Clearly this site is important throughout the year for a wide range of birds and, given the habitats are recovering from historic exploitation, it shows the potential value of the lands were the Shannon Wilderness Park project to be implemented in full.
IWT Campaigns Officer, Pádraic Fogarty says “we’re very disappointed that the hard work and hopes of local communities for the Shannon Wilderness Park are being swept aside by Bord na Móna in their pursuit of this wind energy project. There’s a huge opportunity in creating a distinct and unique identity for this part of Longford, something people would travel from far and wide to experience. Bord na Móna should be working with local people and ecologists in trying to deliver this, rather than working against them to impose an unwanted wind farm. We hope An Bord Pleanala can refuse permission.” END