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Pearl Mussel blows wind farm plan away

An Bord Pleanala has refused planning permission for the construction of a nine turbine wind-farm within sight Doonbeg Golf Resort, as a result of a tiny rare creature likened to “Ireland’s panda”.

This follows an appeal by the golf club owner, US billionaire Donald Trump, in addition to objections and observations from over 40 individuals and groups, from the locality, as well as Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), An Taisce and the Irish Peat Conservation Council (IPCC) against Clare Coastal Wind Power’s project, granted planning permission by Clare County Council last year.

The inspector recommended a refusal to the wind-farm – 20 ft taller than Dublin’s Spire – on a number of grounds – including the impact the wind farm would have on views from the golf resort and the impact the wind farm would have on the fresh water pearl mussel.

In its order, the appeals board stated that it is not satisfied that the proposal would not constitute a serious risk of impairment to the aquatic habitat of this sensitive species – the EU protected fresh water pearl mussel in the Doonbeg river.

Tuesday’s  decision marks the end of a four year campaign by Doonbeg golf club and other local interests to prevent wind-farm development in Doonbeg. Two years ago, An Bord Pleanala refused planning permission to a 2011 plan to construct a 45 turbine wind-farm at Doonbeg.

The board made its ruling on the plan following the authority in Ireland on the mussel, Dr Evelyn Moorkens lodging a report warning that the planned wind farm “is an extremely dangerous proposal” to the mussel nearby.

She said that there are an estimated 7,000 pearl mussels in the Doonbeg river and Dr Moorkens has previously described the pearl mussel as “our tiger, our panda”.

The ancient mussel – that has a life span 120 years – has existed virtually unchanged for around 50 million years, with 90% of all freshwater pearl mussels known to have died out across Europe during the 20th century.

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