Opposition grows against planned 150-250 MW wind farm off Northern Ireland's coast

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Plans for a wind farm off Northern Ireland's coast are running into opposition from local councillors and residents, despite positive survey results from tourists. B9 Energy, Renewable Energy Systems and Powergen Renewables are conducting a feasibility study into some 50-85 turbines with a total capacity of 150-250 MW at Tunes Plateau, five to ten kilometres off the coast near Portstewart. The consortium has embarked on an extensive program of public consultation. Opposing the project is local anti-wind farm group Coast SOS, which is concerned about the potential impact on tourism, fishing and home values. A survey of visitors to the area shows, however, that despite some concerns about visual impact, 84% of tourists questioned say they would not be discouraged from future visits by an offshore wind farm. The survey was carried out by an independent market research company. It shows that 60% of tourists feel the development would have no effect on the landscape or would have a positive effect. Coast SOS criticises the survey, saying it was conducted out of the tourist season and without accurate wind farm visualisation photos. The latest organisation to join the ranks of opponents is Coleraine Borough Council, which has voted to oppose the project, to the bewilderment of the consortium. "We feel that the council could take a more informed, objective and balanced view of our proposals as it awaits the outcome of our ongoing detailed investigations and environmental studies," it says. "Despite their decision, we will continue to consult widely and remain optimistic."

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