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Windfarm campaigners claim pipeline victory

The landowners who have been camping on the roadside to halt a power pipeline which they claimed had been laid on their land were celebrating with supporters after contractors moved their installation last week.

Joe Franz and Diana Kuehnal of Carrigdangan, Kilmichael, Macroom spent over six weeks camping next to a cable laying joint bay – which they say should never have been dug on their side of the road – to prevent cables from being connected for a wind farm and substation.

The windfarm is being developed by Keel Wind Farm, one of many such firms for which Macroom businessman Michael Murnane is a named director.

There were ugly scenes on the site in early June when contractors moved onto the site and, while erecting a fence, appeared to hem Joe Franz in on his own land.

After these tactics failed the site was abandoned by the contractors for two and a half weeks and the protest camp grew, drawing even more people to stand alongside Joe and Diana.

The windfarm and substation development was originally refused planning permission in 2016 after 63 objections were lodged to Cork County Council, who concluded that it would prove ‘a visually intrusive and domineering form of development that would fail to respect the landscape’.

This decision was overturned by An Bord Pleanála who granted permission for the project later the same year.

Joe is delighted with the latest developments but is determined to maintain the camp which he said had grown and become ‘a bit like a community centre’.

“We would like to thank everyone who supported us during this time. The community solidarity was very powerful, and we are indebted to everyone who visited or camped with us, the people who have been ringing us offering help and support from all over the country, and everyone who helped spread our story online.”

“Although this was the last thing we wanted to do, over the weeks the camp has grown and become a bit like a community centre. We have hosted talks on local archaeology, there have been yoga and art workshops, and the Sunday afternoon traditional music session is becoming an institution.

“It would still be much easier for the developer to use the old joint bay installed on our roadside, so for now the camp remains and we are holding our ground.

“We have been fighting this project for years and will keep fighting it.

“We don’t know what will happen next, but now it is important to celebrate what our community has achieved here.”

Sunday’s celebrations involved a traditional music session and a walk as well as other festivities to mark their triumph.