Mid Ulster Council has vowed to give special protection to some of Tyrone’s most famous beauty-spots.
The move comes in response to neighbouring council Fermanagh and Omagh’s plans to constrain mining and wind farm development in the Clogher Valley and the Sperrins.
The council has proposed that the scenic mountain ranges be turned into ‘areas of constraint on mineral development’ and the decision has been welcomed by Mid Ulster Council’s planning officials.
The special protection has been awarded due to the quality of the Tyrone landscape and its archaeological interest, and the fear that mining operations and a proliferation of wind farms might have a dramatic impact on the view enjoyed by visitors.
In a report to the Mid Ulster Planning Committee, officers said that the Sperrin and the Clogher Valley were landscapes of special merit and ‘particularly susceptible to the potential adverse visual impacts of wind farms and high structures.’
Officers also supported the neighbouring council’s move to introduce ‘Areas of Minerals Safeguarding’, with a view to protecting economically important mineral deposits so that they can contribute to the local economy and communities.
Fermanagh and Omagh Council has also vowed to get stricter on renewable energy projects, and protect sensitive landscapes and areas of high scenic value from wind farm developments.
However, Mid Ulster Council said the policy approach could go a step further in that it should also take account of the potential detrimental impact that high structures, such as overhead powerlines and telecommunications development, could have on the landscape.
Environmentalists have called for a change in the planning system, and said the current arrangement had led to a “free-for-all” among wind farm developers. Community groups have successfully campaigned against large-scale wind farms at Pomeroy and Sixmilecross.