National Trust and Tourist Board oppose Benevenagh windfarm plans

The National Trust and Northern Ireland Tourist Board are the latest to hit out at proposals for a wind farm at Benevenagh.
Wind turbineWind turbine
Wind turbine

The two influential bodies are the latest in a series of groups, individuals and businesses to oppose the planned wind farm in the heart of the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Those opposed to the plans point to the negative impact on tourism of a ‘panoramic view of industrial size turbines’.

The site for the proposed development of 21 wind turbines is in the heart of Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic tourist destinations. Hit television series Game of Thrones filmed a number of key scenes at locations nearby. The turbines would be 125 metres tall, a third the height of Benevenagh Mountain which is 385 metres high, and would be visible from miles around.

The National Trust, which owns and manages a number of historic properties in the area, including Downhill Palace Demesne, Mussenden Temple and Hezlett’s House near Castlerock, has objected strongly to the proposal.

Its objection to planners highlights the ‘unspoilt, expansive sea views’ from Binevenagh and states: “Once this proposal for 21 turbines and any future permissions are operational, coupled with existing turbines, their individual appearance will merge and the result will be a panoramic view of industrial size turbines, which in terms of the protection of this distinctive rural landscape quality is unacceptable.”

Other concerns raised by the National Trust include a ‘detrimental impact’ on Binevenagh’s highly sensitive landscape, biodiversity, nature conservation, the quality of life of local communities and tourism.

In its response to planners, the Northern Irish Tourist Board also highlighted “the particularly scenic location of the site of the proposed wind farm and the proximity of a number of Northern Ireland’s most iconic visitor attractions including Mussenden Temple, the Causeway Coastal Route and Binevenagh Scenic Loop, Downhill Demesne, Benone Strand, Magilligan Point Nature Reserve, Martello Tower and the Gortmore Viewing Point which offers panoramic views of the North Coast.

“A development of this scale and in such close proximity to these features may have an impact on the ‘visitor experience’ in the area.’

The scheme also puts in jeopardy the future of the Ulster Gliding Centre, which has been in existence since 1930. The spectacular cliffs of Binevenagh and the shore of Lough Foyle are known as one of the best soaring sites for gliders in the British Isles and Ireland.

A spokesman for the Binevenagh SOS campaign group, which has more than 1,600 followers on its Facebook page, said: “Local people and regular visitors to the area are extremely concerned that the development will ruin the unique natural character of Binevenagh AONB. The tourist industry is a major employer and vital to the local economy. This proposal puts tourism jobs and local businesses at significant risk.”