The decision by Cork County Council to grant planning for a wind farm in a highly scenic area of West Cork has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.
On May 21, the Council granted ten-year planning permission with 38 conditions to ShehyMore Wind Farm for ten of the twelve initially proposed turbines.
There is strong local opposition to the development on what is seen as an iconic mountain within the West Cork uplands, between Inchigeelagh and Dunmanway. Planning was granted despite 55 valid objections.
Two appeals have now been lodged seeking to overturn the planning authority’s decision – one by a group of local residents and the second by Anthony Cohu from Borlin, Bantry.
A petition with close to 100 names opposed to the development will also be submitted.
Concerned resident and archaeologist Tony Miller said the group had appealed on the grounds of the impact on scenic routes and on the rural character of the area, the proposed transport system, impact on flora and fauna, especially birds, concerns over heritage and the link to the grid.
Mr Miller said that materials and turbines would be taken along very small narrow roads and impacting on locals and that no other routes were available.
From Daly’s Bar in Gloun the turbines would be transported past the Kilmichael ambush, through Johnstown to Inchigeelagh and then via the South Lake Road and finally via the old Bantry line over the shoulder of Shehy mountain. ‘That’s the route for all the materials coming in as well as for the turbines themselves,’ Mr Miller said.
Mr Miller pointed out that the EIS was inadequate in not including surveys that were requested. ‘There hasn’t been an adequate bird survey done. There is a letter from The Golden Eagle Trust to say that the white tailed eagle is using the area.
‘They have been sighted there and recorded there and they have failed to mention this in the EIS,’ he said. He also cites the failure to survey for the Freshwater Pearl Mussel which has been recorded within the site.
‘There has been no impact assessment done for the proposed link to the grid which will probably be going to Dunmanway. They implied they could put it underground but there’s no obligation to do that,’ he said.
Both appeals note that the development would impact on three or four Council-designated scenic routes, including the North Lake Road and others in the Lee Valley leading to Gougane Barra, as well as touring routes around Bantry Bay. In addition, Tony Cohu’s appeal cites proximity to an extensive area of high scenic and visual importance at the Cousane Gap.
Mr Cohu urges that the application be refused on policy grounds and cites the adverse cumulative effects of inter-visibility between wind farms within a 20km radius in highly scenic West Cork uplands. Granting permission, he says, would also be inconsistent with refusals for similar proposals.
An Bord Pleanála has eighteen weeks to make a decision.
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