Carlow County Council
25th February 2021
Re. Proposed construction of 7 no. wind turbines and associated site works at Rossacurra, Cranemore, Kilbrannish North, Bealalaw, Raheenliegh, Aclare, Co. Carlow.
Planning ref: 2113
Dear Sir, Madam
The Irish Georgian Society wishes to object to this proposed development due to the significant adverse impact it would have on views from Huntington Castle (protected structure) and on views along the Mount Leinster Drive (Scenic Route 10 in the Carlow County Development Plan).
The Society understands that other sites of significant architectural heritage interest including Newtown Barry House, Altamont Gardens and Borris House as well as Adelaide Church in Myshall, would also be affected by this development but has been unable to properly assess these.
Huntington Castle & Gardens
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage contains the following entry for Huntington Castle:
Freestanding four-bay three-storey over basement tower house, c. 1625, with projecting porch and bow to rear. Extended, c. 1880, comprising seven-bay two-storey wing with conservatory, crenellated parapet and bartizans added. Interior retains timber panelling, ribbed ceilings, staircase, c. 1725, and Temple of Isis to basement. Stable complex to site with group of detached brick outbuildings. Formal gardens, c. 1675, to site with terraces, canals and yew walks.
The gardens at Huntington are of particular interest for their early origins with features that include a Yew Walk possibly dating to the Middle Ages and a parterre and Lime Avenue that survive from the formal landscape designs introduced by the Esmonde family in the 1680s. The significance of Huntington Castle and Gardens to the county’s heritage tourism is highlighted in the website of the Carlow Garden Trail which states that it was voted as one of Ireland’s top 20 Hidden Gems by The Guardian in March 2015.
In seeking to assess the relationship between the proposed wind turbines and Huntington, the IGS gave consideration to photomontage VP15. This clearly illustrates the significant visual impact of the proposed wind turbines though failed to be taken from the house or within its gardens, the areas of greatest heritage interest and sensitivity to adverse change. Taken together with the Greenoge Wind Farm, the cumulative impact of these developments would significantly alter and diminish the character of views from Huntington Castle and so would be contrary to the proper planning and development of the area.
It is noted that the Carlow County Development Plan states that the inclusion of a building in the Record of Protected Structures “provides positive recognition of the structures’ importance [and] protection from adverse impacts “ (9.3).
In considering developments outside the curtilage and attendant grounds of a protected structure, the Architectural Heritage Protection Guidelines for Planning Authorities (2011) states that “similar consideration should be given as for proposed development within the attendant grounds” (13.8.1). In this context it notes that:
Large buildings, sometimes at a considerable distance, can alter views to or from the protected structure or ACA and thus affect their character. Proposals should not have an adverse effect on the special interest of the protected structure or the character of an ACA. (13.8.3)
The Irish Georgian Society contends that the proposed new wind turbines would have an adverse effect on the special interest of Huntington Castle, a protected structure, through compromising views from the house and its gardens, and so should therefore not be granted planning permission.
Mount Leinster Drive
This Scenic Drive is identified in the Carlow County Development Plan 2015-21 (Appendix 6, Landscape Character Assessment). It forms part of the 75km long Mount Leinster Heritage Drive which the Development Plan notes was “developed by Carlow County Council [and] combines the natural panoramic landscape of the Blackstairs Mountains with the well maintained heritage towns and villages along its route” (8.5.5).
In considering the heritage and tourism value of this route to the county, attention is drawn to the following provisions of the Development Plan:
Heritage – Policy 1
It is the policy of Carlow County Council to… Protect designated Views, Prospects and Scenic Routes in the county as appropriate.
Sustainable Tourism 8.3
In accordance with the Core Strategy, the principle aims for the development of a sustainable tourism sector in County Carlow [include]:
To protect the County’s tourism assets and capitalise on the distinct tourism attractions that the County has to offer including natural, built and cultural heritage, scenic landscapes, rivers and forests.
Tourism – Policy 2
It is the policy of Carlow County Council to:
Protect and conserve those natural, built and cultural heritage features which form the basis of the county’s tourism attraction and to seek to restrict development which would be detrimental to scenic and identified natural and cultural heritage assets.
It is quite apparent from the views illustrated in VP 29 (Nine Stones View Point) and VP30 (Kilbranish South) that the proposed wind turbines would transform the character of the route along the Mount Leinster Drive with the introduction of industrial structures to a sensitive rural landscape. In considering the Mount Leinster/ Blackstairs Uplands, the Landscape Character Assessment states that “in terms of natural attributes and scenery, this character area is the most important in the County and is as such highly sensitive to change” (p. 35).
The Irish Georgian Society contends that the proposed wind turbines would have a significant detrimental impact on views along the Mount Leinster Drive, that they would be contrary to the provisions of the Development Plan and so therefore should not be granted planning permission.
In summary, the Irish Georgian Society contends that the construction of the proposed 7 no. wind turbines would have an adverse effect on the character of Huntington Castle (protected structure) through compromising key views from the house and its gardens, and would diminish an appreciation of the Mount Leinster Drive by introducing immense industrial structures into a sensitive rural landscape. For these reasons, we urge that permission be refused for this planning application.
IGS Executive Director