A wind farm planned close to a Cork community already “surrounded” by turbines “in a 360-degree radius” is to see its number of turbines increased.
Twelve turbines were originally proposed for Gortyrahilly Wind Farm, a joint development by Coillte Renewable Energy and SSE Renewables between the villages of Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh and Baile Mhúirne in the Múscraí Gaeltacht.
However, an information leaflet circulated to homes within 2km of the proposed development confirms that 15 turbines are now being considered.
Because the wind farm would have an output greater than 50MW, it is classed as a strategic infrastructure development, allowing the applicants to seek approval directly from An Bord Pleanála rather than the local planning authority, Cork County Council. Their goal is to submit the project to An Bord Pleanála for planning permission by September.
The increase in the number of turbines proposed came as a result of the developers “maximising the use of space” on the 710-hectare site near the Cork-Kerry border.
“By optimising the developable area and maintaining the commitment to a minimum setback distance of 740m to a residential house, it is anticipated approximately 15 turbines can be sited within the boundary of Gortyrahilly,” the developers state.
“This is an additional three turbines from our original estimate… and was achieved by maximising the use of space within the original footprint.”
The planned wind farm site is, at its nearest point, approximately 4km from the village of Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh, whose development committee last September lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against a planning decision on a proposed seven-turbine development and battery storage facility at Curraglass near Gougane Barra.
With further wind farms already constructed nearby at Cleanrath, Grousemount, Shehy, and Derragh (Doireach), development committee chairman Tadhg Ó Duinnín at the time described Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh as being “absolutely surrounded” by turbines “in a 360-degree radius around us”.
He said of the wind farms:
“This community has had to take more than its fair share of them.”
The development committee also submitted observations and a community petition to An Bord Pleanála relating to substitute planning consent for the stalled Cleanrath Windfarm, which was constructed in 2019 despite being the subject of a Supreme Court appeal.
Planning decisions were due to be made on the wind farms at Cleanrath by December 17 last year and Curraglass by the start of this month, but rulings on the applications, both by subsidiary companies of businessman Michael Murnane, are now listed to be made by An Bord Pleanála “as soon as possible”.
Meanwhile, Coillte Renewable Energy and SSE Renewables expect to submit a planning application to Cork County Council by November for another new wind farm at Inchamore near Cúil Aodha.
Five turbines were initially mooted but “approximately six” are now being proposed for a 480-hectare site, 5km west of Baile Mhúirne and in proximity to Grousemount, which when fully operational is set to become the ESB’s largest onshore wind farm, with 38 turbines.
In relation to Inchamore and Gortyrahilly, Coillte and SSE Renewables have committed to “engage inclusively with all our stakeholders” and “believe in communicating with our neighbours right from the beginning”, with information websites newly launched at inchamorewindfarm.ie and gortyrahillywindfarm.ie
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