It follows An Bord Pleanála’s rejection of a planning application by Clare Coastal Wind Power Ltd for the erection of a nine-turbine windfarm within sight of the golf resort on the Atlantic coast.
The inspector in the case recommended a refusal for the windfarm — which would be 6m higher than Dublin’s Spire — on a number of grounds, including the impact it would have on views from the golf resort.
However, ultimately, the board refused planning permission on only one ground: The impact the proposed windfarm would have on the freshwater pearl mussel.
In its order, the appeals board stated it was satisfied the proposal may constitute a serious risk of impairment to the aquatic habitat of this sensitive species — the EU-protected freshwater pearl mussel in the Doonbeg river.
Yesterday’s decision brings to an end a four-year battle by Doonbeg golf club and other local interests to prevent the windfarm development.
In 2013, An Bord Pleanála refused planning permission for a 2011 plan to construct a 45-turbine windfarm in the area
The current 125m-high windfarm would have been located 4km from the golf resort. In the objection, consultants employed by Trump International Golf Links claimed the windfarm would “have a detrimental impact on the viability” of the Doonbeg golf resort.
They stated: “The resort primarily relies on bookings from international and, in particular, the North American market and a reduction in bookings as a consequence of the visual impact from the proposed development will have a serious negative impact on tourism in the area.”
The board made its ruling on the nine-turbine plan following the lodging of a report by an Irish authority on the mussel, Evelyn Moorkens, who warned that the planned windfarm was “an extremely dangerous proposal” to the mussel. She said there are an estimated 7,000 pearl mussels in the Doonbeg river. Dr Moorkens had previously described them as “our tiger, our panda”.
The ancient mussel — which has a lifespan of 120 years — has existed virtually unchanged for around 50m years, with 90% of all freshwater pearl mussels known to have died out across Europe during the 20th century.
Mr Trump led the charge against the planned windfarm that attracted 42 objections, including widespread local opposition in Doonbeg and from Friends of the Irish Environment, while An Taisce and the Irish Peat Conservation Council also expressed concern.
The decision will disappoint 23 landowners, who stood to receive an annual dividend from allowing the turbines on their lands.
Meanwhile, the most recent accounts for Clare Coastal Wind Power Ltd to the end of December 2013 show that the firm was nursing total losses of €426,071 from its ill-fated Doonbeg windfarm plan that has now been refused twice.
The inspector in the case recommended refusal, as the windfarm would seriously detract from the tourism resource of the area, due to the height, scale and location of the proposed development within an open, exposed and low-lying landscape and the scenic route along the N67 Wild Atlantic Way and tourist amenities in the area, including the Doonbeg Golf Resort.
The inspector stated the plan would seriously injure the amenities of the area by reason of visual intrusion and overbearing visual impact.