Cork County Council Mayor Gillian Coughlan has suggested that she would argue in favour of the authority lending its support to the local community in Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh as it considers a legal challenge to a Bórd Pleanála decision to allow a seven turbine windfarm to locate on the slopes overlooking Gougane Barra.
Speaking to The Corkman following the decision which overturned an initial refusal by Cork County Council of the application by Wingleaf Renewable Energy, Cllr Coughlan said that the Múscraí Gaeltacht beauty spot was a very special place to people in Cork.
“When you read the submissions sent into Cork County Council and the refusal documents state exactly what the issues were, it is a beautiful scenic area.
“Wind turbines with a tip height of 178 meters would be obtrusive in that locality,” said Cllr Coughlan.
“Cork County Council are not anti wind energy, we have given permission to windfarms in that locality, but Cork CC planners, and supported in the main by most councillors, would agree that this site that is proposed is not the right site for that type of wind turbine.
“Right across Europe, people have destroyed their heritage, and we have here in Ireland an early Christian monastic site, not every country has that, not every county has that, it’s a very special place in many, many ways, and we should be preserving it and minding it as best we can.”
When Cllr Coughlan was reminded of the Council’s fight last year with the Local Government Minister over the proposed retail village for East Cork – to which Cork County Council brought a judicial review in a fight against the Minister’s rejection of the proposal – she said the County Development Plan protected Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh and particularly Gougane Barra as ‘a place of special scenic and heritage amenity’.
“If the principles of the material contravention of the County Development Plan hold for the proposed retail outlet, even though that wasn’t fleshed out properly, then I think it should also hold for an existing heritage site of huge historic value,” she said.
She added that she would consider fighting for this principle as a Councillor, not wearing the Mayoral chain, should it come before the Council. “The point is not lost on me,” she said, when the comparison was put to her.
In Dáil Éireann on Tuesday night, Cork North West TD Aindrias Moynihan raised the issue with Local Government Minister Peter Burke, who refused to comment on the matter given it had been decided by An Bórd Pleanála. While maintaining his neutrality on the specific issue, Minister Burke did say that it was important that Ireland continued to strive to meet its carbon-emission-reduction goals.
In a response from Fáilte Ireland, the tourism body cited its objection to the wind farm in these terms:
“As the Irish landscape is one of the primary reasons for visiting the country, it is essential that the quality, character and distinctiveness of this valuable resource is protected.”
The body said the pristine natural environment was central to the development and marketing of these experiences, and was valued highly by domestic and overseas markets.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding