The 15 turbines proposed for a new wind farm at a Cork beauty spot are taller than those already refused planning permission on grounds of “excessive height” on a nearby site close to Gougane Barra.
A planning application is expected to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála by September for Gortyrahilly Wind Farm, a joint development by Coillte Renewable Energy and SSE Renewables.
Last September, Cork County Council refused permission to Wingleaf Ltd, a subsidiary company of businessman Michael Murnane, for a seven-turbine wind farm, electricity substation, and battery storage containers at Curraglass, near the Pass of Keimaneigh and less than two miles from St Finbarr’s Oratory at Gougane Barra.
The plans were turned down on grounds including the “excessive height” of the turbines, whose blades were to measure up to 178.5 metres. The development, according to the planning refusal, “would be excessively domineering from very many vantage points over a wide area”.
The turbines now planned for Gortyrahilly – more than double the number sought at Curraglass – are 185m in height. They are proposed for a 710-hectare site which at its nearest point is less than five miles from the popular tourist destination of Gougane Barra forest park and lake.
Because the Gortyrahilly 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.
Gortyrahilly, between the Gaeltacht villages of Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh, Réidh na nDoirí, Cúil Aodha, and Baile Mhúirne, is a largely elevated site near the scenic Mouth of the Glen and is adjacent to an existing wind farm at Derragh.
Further wind farms also exist nearby at Grousemount, Shehy, and Cleanrath, leading the development committee in Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh to describe the village as being “absolutely surrounded” by turbines “in a 360-degree radius around us”.
The committee, Coiste Forbartha Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh, lodged an appeal relating to Curraglass wind farm and submitted a community petition to An Bord Pleanála over substitute planning consent for the stalled Cleanrath Windfarm, constructed in 2019 despite being the subject of a Supreme Court appeal.
A number of homes in Réidh na nDoirí, Cathair na Cáithe in Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh, and Na Doirí (Derrees) near Cúil Aodha are little more than the minimum set-back distance from the turbines, some of which are planned for a prominent location on the brow of the hill at Béal a’ Ghleanna (Mouth of the Glen), a noted beauty spot.
A map showing the planned locations of the turbines has recently been circulated to those living within 2km of the wind farm site, while details of construction access routes are due to be released this month, with an online portal opening for community feedback.
Community liaison officer Brendan Twomey said: “More detailed information on the wind farm, access routes, grid connections, all the various studies that have been carried out on the wildlife, water quality, ground conditions, is being prepared and will be delivered to the communities within the next month, it is hoped, so this will give an opportunity for some community engagement before planning submission date.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding