FURTHER evidence has emerged of the rapid march of wind farms across the local hills, with latest planning figures showing that almost half of the windfarms pending in Northern Ireland are destined for County Tyrone.
According to the Department of the Environment, there are 19 wind farms pending for County Tyrone out of a total of 44 for the whole of Northern Ireland.
Antrim had the next highest number of wind farms in the planning process with 9, while Derry had 7.
Last year, a total of 112 single and multiple wind turbine applications were given the go-ahead in the South Tyrone and Fermanagh areas, the highest in Northern Ireland, with 41 of them passed for the Dungannon District.
West Tyrone had the next highest total at 89, according to the figures.
Further figures released by the department highlight the dramatic proliferation of wind farms and single turbines in the Dungannon District with the number of approved applications rising by more than ten times from 4 in 2009 to last year’s total of 41.
Worryingly, First Minister Peter Robinson has warned that the Northern Ireland Assembly plans to accelerate the development of windfarms to meet the 2020 target for renewable energy production.
“There is the capacity for us to become exporters of electricity into Britain and international grids”, he said.
However, Dungannon UUP Councillor called for other parts of Northern Ireland to share the burden of windpower.
“It is clear that the majority of windfarms are being built in the West, particularly in the Sperrins”, he said.
“I would like to question why so few windfarms are being built in the Glens of Antrim and the Mourne mountains, and why they seem to be concentrated in the west.
“This is an area of outstanding natural beauty and should be protected.
“I also understand that in the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, communities who live near windfarms receive a subsidy to reduce their electric bills.
“However, this does not appear to be the case for Northern Ireland.”