County councillors have come out strongly against a plan to build a major wind farm in North Cork, due to concerns for locals’ health and the impact it would have on endangered species in an area considered to be of scenic and environmental importance.
As part of the planning process, council officials have prepared a submission for Bord Pleanála on a proposal by Coom Green Energy Park Ltd to build 22 wind turbines in the Nagle mountains, bordering on communities in Ballyhooly, Glenville and Killavullen.
The turbines would have a maximum tip height of 169m and a maximum rotor diameter of 138m.
As part of the submission, county councillors are allowed to have their say and they have backed the communities who are battling the plan.
Fianna Fáil councillor William O’Leary proposed they officially express their concerns to the planning appeals board and got almost unanimous support from colleagues.
He said the area encompassed by the proposed development was enshrined in the council’s own County Development Plan as “one of environmental importance” and he wasn’t convinced mitigation measures proposed by the company would protect a number of endangered species living there, including the hen harrier.
Serious ecological impacts
“There are very serious ecological impacts and the council’s ecologist has also highlighted this. I’m asking members that we reject this development on the grounds of human health and the effect it would have on the environment and endangered species,” Mr O’Leary said.
Mr O’Leary said local communities were concerned about the impact the wind farm could have on their health.
“I fully support wind energy, but this is in the wrong location,” he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Liam Madden pointed out that in 2002 there was a similar development proposed in the area and it was turned down.
Mr Madden said people couldn’t get planning permission for houses in the area because they would impact on its scenic beauty, so he couldn’t see why huge wind turbines could be allowed to be developed there. Fianna Fáil councillor Sheila O’Callaghan agreed with him, saying the height of the turbines would be very obtrusive.
Fine Gael councillor Pat Hayes referred to the turbines as “monstrosities” and maintained the place for them was offshore.
Fine Gael councillor Noel McCarthy said he was concerned about locals’ health from noise generated by the turbines, as did Labour councillor James Kennedy, who said the “turbines are too big altogether”.
Fine Gael councillor Gerard Murphy said he wasn’t against wind farms as they have a large number of them in his area, Kanturk.
“I accept the strong reservations of residents must be taken into account, but we must accept that there are going to be certain inconveniences attached to renewable energy,” he added.
Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton said the proposed location of the turbines “was in an extraordinarily delicate area environmentally”. “We are all for renewable energy, but it would be extremely sad to upset the balance of nature ,” she added.
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