D39 Wind Energy

It is proposed that:
a) that lands of Freagh Hill, primarily in the townlands of Moanteenmore and Raheenroche are designated as a Preferred area in the Wind Energy Development Strategy, Map 1.
b) that the proposed Protected View no. 23 is not designated as it runs through an actively managed commercial forest.
c) that cycling and walking initiatives supported as part of a wind farm development at Freagh hill are formally recognised.
Three principal reasons are used by in the proposed Wind Energy Development Strategy in making a case to have the area identified as being Unsuitable.
They are:
• The area belongs to the Brandon Hill Uplands in the LCA1 and is categorised as being Sensitive.
• Freagh Hill is deemed to be a High prominence.
• Two tourist attractions are listed for the area; the South Leinster Way and the East Kilkenny Cycle Route. It is perceived that wind farm development is not compatible with these amenities.
These three assets appear to be regarded as the heritage attractions of the area. It is this that is used to identify the area as Unsuitable for wind farm developments.
Why this assessment is flawed and the designation should be changed
• The Principal Landscape Character Areas were defined 10 years ago when there were no statutory targets for renewable energy production. There is now a requirement to generate 40% of our requirements from renewable resources by 2020. This is unlikely to be achieved in Co. Kilkenny unless areas with good wind resources are included.
• Freagh Hill is the lowest hill in the area. It is substantially screened by Croghan particularly when viewed from the east and southeast, Map 2.
• In recent years wind farms have become tourist attractions. For example, Kilbrannish Wind Farm near Bunclody is located beside the South Leinster Way, Map 3. Both serious and casual walkers regularly visit the wind farm.
• Visibility of a relatively modest wind farm on the southwestern slopes of Freagh Hill from a proposed Protected view (no. 23) on the South Leinster Way would be significantly compromised because it runs through an actively managed commercial conifer woodland.
Heritage attractions of the area
Heritage appears to refer to the landscape and visual amenity of the area which attract tourism, not simply cultural heritage or archaeological sites.
It has been shown that well regulated wind farms have become tourist attractions for casual and dedicated trail walkers. When established they add to the range of local amenities for walkers and cyclists and enhance local tourism.
Heritage Proposal
If the lands at Freagh Hill are designated as a Preferred area, an opportunity would be created to add to the local tourist walking and cycling amenities. Walks would be developed within the wind farm site with the intention of linking these with the adjacent Coillte forest road network.
Suitable initiatives linking the site with walking and cycling activities from Graiguenamanagh would be supported. These would include supporting a link off the East Kilkenny Cycle Route at Graiguenamanagh.
Advantages of Freagh Hill
Constructing a relatively modest well regulated wind farm on Freagh Hill would utilise the County Kilkenny wind resource more efficiently than at any other location. 
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