One wind farm has been approved and two more proposed for a scenic mountain area of West Cork, where past applications have been rejected by the planning authorities.
Between 50 and sixty people attended a public meeting recently regarding an application for a five-turbine wind farm with hub height of 64m and rotor diameter 71m by Ardrah Wind Farms at Ardrah, Kealkil, Bantry.
Architect Anthony Cohu from Borlin and local resident Ian Collins are among those that have since officially objected to the development.
The location, Mr Cohu says, is in the very sensitive landscape heartland of South West Cork, which since 1998 has been generally protected from the first wave of wind farm development by a series of refusals either by the local planning authority or by An Bord Pleanála. Two of those since permitted and constructed at Cappaboy and Milane Hill were recommended for refusal by the inspector, but over-ruled by the Board, Mr Cohu says.
The protection of the Mealagh Valley area Mr Cohu says has been eroded by a grant of permission with a subsequent extension to a developer previously refused planning for a wind farm at Goulacullin in the Mealagh Valley.
Mr Cohu believes that, because that permission has not been acted on, the current application on an even more elevated site at Derreenacrinning is simply speculative.
Appropriate planning protection is needed, Mr Cohu says, from a second wave of wind farm applications both on the Kerry side of the county boundary and again in this part of West Cork.
Mr Cohu claims the application does not conform to the guidelines from the Department of the Environment, Irish Planning Institute, Cork County Development Plan or Sustainable Development criteria and that it is premature until there is a comprehensive Sustainable Energy Policy for the county.
Taken in conjunction with existing wind farms, the new development, if permitted, would create excessive density of inter-visible wind farms in the highly-scenic West Cork uplands, he says, and is visible from a defined Scenic Landscape of the Cousane Gap and environs and prominently visible from two scenic routes with skyline view from the main touring routes around Bantry Bay.
The location Mr Cohu states is not in a Strategic Search Area that is considered suitable for wind farms.
Local resident Mr Ian Collins points out that in fact the site is just 300m from a ‘Strategically Unsuitable Area’ for wind farm development as defined in the 2009 County Development Plan who is concerned at the proximity to nearby dwellings.
He points out the effects on local tourism on the Three Valleys Walk recently developed by the Mealagh Valley Cummunity Development Group, Coomhola-Borlin Development Association and the Kealkil Development Association.
“This way-marked route is in danger of becoming a tour of wind farms, rather than of historic sites,” Mr Collins said.
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