August 7, 2013

Objections to wind turbine at Gerahies

By Leo McMahon | The Southern Star |

Fastnet Mussels Ltd has applied to Cork County Council for permission to erect a 20 kilowatt wind turbine and also to retain a reinforced concrete base for same at Gerahies, Bantry Bay but it has been met with over 20 objections.

The application was lodged on June 14th and one of those opposed to the development, who resides in the area on the northern side of the Sheep’s Head peninsula overlooking Bantry Bay, contacted The Southern Star last week and summarised the main points of concern among objectors as follows:

1) It is a designated scenic coastal area. Such areas should be protected from the ugliness of wind towers. Sheep’s Head Peninsula is enjoyed by locals, cyclists, walkers and those who come on a scenic drive.

2) It is a Special Area of Protection due to the presence of rare birds.

3) A wind turbine would produce noise pollution which would be intolerable for those living in close proximity.

4) The shadow flicker created by the movement of the blades would be intolerable for those living nearby, and it would be intrusive to all those who can see the turbine from the hill above, even from afar, possibly, from the Beara Peninsula.

5) The close proximity of the site conflicts with industry guidelines for location near farm land and settled residential communities.

6) An explanation is needed as to why an application for retention of the concrete based was required.

The objectors further stated that the rural character of Sheep’s Head Peninsula should be preserved because its beauty played an important part in the development of a robust tourist economy.

The person who contacted this newspaper (who was unaware of the €20 fee and therefore her letter of objection couldn’t be accepted on the last date for submissions) and an objector we spoke to said they and other objectors, who they were able to contact, declined to be named but added that the names of all objectors were to be seen in the planning file.

Our reporter called to the planning department at the ground floor of County Hall and viewed the planning file which confirmed the above mentioned concerns expressed in letters of objection and observation, each submitted at a cost of €20 up to the closing date of July 18th. The submissions, which range from a single page to 24, can also be viewed in at the council’s office in Skibbereen.

While some stated that in principle, they were in favour of renewable energy, they were strongly opposed to the location in question on the basis it would have a detrimental effect to the visual amenity of an area of outstanding beauty.

It was contended the sight of wind turbine could damage tourism and overall, impact on the quality life along a scenic route (Goat’s Path) in the award winning peninsula and Bantry Bay where 21 dwellings were within 1.5 kilometres of the proposed structure.

There was also a statutory observation on file from An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland requesting a visual impact assessment be carried out due to its extremely exposed position on the coast. It also quotes from the 2009 Cork County Development Plan: ‘Areas which, because of high landscape sensitivity, are considered generally to be unsuitable for wind energy projects.

While there may be a small number of locations within these areas with limited potential for small scale wind projects, their contribution to any significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be negligible.

Except on a small scale and at particularly suitable locations, wind projects would normally be discourages in these areas’

The letter, signed on behalf of An Taisce’s Built and Environment Officer Ian Lumley, added: ‘Given that there are scenic routes along this site, as designated in the county development plan, it is not considered that this location, regardless of scale, is an inappropriate location’.

The council can make a decision on a planning application two months after it is lodged or decide to request further information beyond that date.

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