Consent sought for second wind-farm in hen harrier-earmarked area

PLANNING permission is being sought for a second wind-farm in a controversial area earmarked for the conservation of the endangered hen harrier, it emerged yesterday.

Last April, planning permission was granted for a four-turbine wind-farm, at Kielduff, in the Stack's Mountains, near Tralee, Co Kerry, but objections have been lodged and there will be an appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

However, the same company, Provento, based in Glenbeigh, Co Kerry, is behind the second application for another four-turbine project in the Kielduff area.

The company claims a survey has shown the development won't have any effect on the hen harrier.

Duchas has proposed to set aside 80,000 acres in north Kerry/west Limerick as a Special Protection Area for the hen harrier, which is strongly opposed by the IFA and other farming organisations.

Such a designation would impose severe restrictions on development, including forestry and wind-farms.

This has caused outrage among farmers and there have been threats to shoot all hen harriers on sight unless the designation proposals are withdrawn. The row took a sinister turn last May 12 when the body of a hen

harrier that had been shot or trapped, was anonymously sent by post to The Kerryman newspaper in Tralee.

The species has the highest possible legal protection EU annex one designation and anyone found killing it is liable to prosecution and substantial penalties.

Gardaí are still carrying out an investigation into the killing of the bird, a young male.

Declining in numbers all over Europe, the hen harrier is now a rare bird of prey and there are only 130 breeding pairs remaining in Ireland, according to bird-watching organisations.

It is expected that mountain areas in parts of Cork, Kerry and Limerick will be accorded special status to protect the bird.

At least six wind-farm developments are being proposed for such areas.

It is reckoned, by experts, that up to 40 of the hen harrier breeding pairs are in the south west, along Mount Eagle, the Derrynasaggart, Mullaghreirke and Nagle mountains.

Other areas known to provide habitat include Clare, Tipperary, Laois, Tyrone, Fermanagh and Antrim.

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