Buncrana hydroelectric plant gets planning approval

Controversial plans for a hydroelectric power station in Buncrana have been given the green light.

Controversial plans for a hydroelectric power station in Buncrana have been given the green light.

The proposal to construct the station on Mill River has been objected to by several groups on various environmental grounds.

An Bord Pleanala made its decision to grant the permission despite its own inspector recommending that the development should not go ahead. Buncrana Town Council granted conditional planning permission for the project to local company Mill Power last May.

The move by An Bord Pleanala to uphold that decision has been welcomed by a local councillor as “great news for the town”.

Independent Buncrana Town Councillor Cllr. Lee Tedstone said: “I’m delighted that it has been approved by An Bord Pleanala because it’s a great project. It’s a sustainable and environmentally friendly project, an innovative development, and I’m delighted it has got the go ahead. My hope is that it will lead to other environmentally friendly projects and related developments in the area.”

Cllrr Tedstone also suggested that more such “positive decisions” are needed in the town. “In light of the many projects in the Buncrana area which have been objected to in recent times, it’s positive to see plans for such sustainable developments getting the go ahead.”

One of the parties to object to plans was The Mill Anglers Association.

The anglers have argued that the erection of the hydroelectric power house will divert the natural flow of the river down the fish pass, making it impossible for salmon and trout to gain access to ancient spawning grounds.

They have further stated that the proposal will crack open the mill ‘chase’ - the pipe originally used to generate hydroelectric power at Swan’s Mill - which is part of the heritage of Buncrana. They have also argued that the development will lead to the destruction of mature trees and wildlife habitat, and obstruct the passage of otters to feeding grounds.

An Bord Pleanala granted the permission with conditions, having considered all submissions from a number of groups and its own inspector’s report.