A Múscraí community group has won its campaign against a planned wind farm overlooking the Gougane Barra beauty spot in west Cork, it has emerged.
The dramatic news came this morning from the legal team of An Bórd Pleanála that the planning body would not be continuing its defence of a legal action brought by Coiste Forbartha Bhéal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh contesting the Bord’s decision to overturn a decision by Cork County County Council to refuse a planning application for a seven turbine wind farm on the slopes overlooking one of the country’s most popular tourism destinations.
“We are delighted with this great result, we feel that justice has been done, common sense prevails, and democracy restored in this situation,” said campaign spokesman Neil Lucey, who is the proprietor of the Gougane Barra Hotel.
“We thank the people locally, nationally and internationally who believed in us, supported us and were always there. We wish to recognise the great work of Joe Noonan of Noonan Linehan Carroll Coffey LLP and their legal teams for outstanding effort, Maith sibh.”
The local community group, Coiste Forbartha Bhéal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh, mounted a crowd funding campaign to raise €30,000 to initiate the case against An Bórd Pleanála and were seeking a further €60,000 to go to the High Court with their appeal. Donations came in from all the over the world.
Councillors voted unanimously at Cork County Council in February to condemn the decision by An Bórd Pleanála to overturn its initial refusal of the application by Wing Leaf Ltd for the seven turbine windfarm at Curraglas.
The directors of Wingleaf Ltd are Michael and David Murnane and its an affiliate company of Lissarda based Enerco Energy.
The planned wind turbines would have been 178.5m high, from ground to highest blade tip. The proposed development, estimated to cost €30m, also included four battery storage units and supporting infrastructure would include a 38kV electricity substation, quarries, deforestation, access roads, site drainage and widening of an access junction on the Shehy Mountains overlooking Gougane Barra and the Pass of Keimaneigh.
According to the planning refusal by Cork County Council, the development would “materially contravene” the objectives of the Cork County Development Plan and “would be excessively domineering from very many vantage points over a wide area”.
In February of this year, however, an appeal by Wingleaf Ltd to An Bórd Pleanála was given the green light in spite of advice from the planning appeal body’s own inspector advising against granting the appeal.
“This is a development that would have significant adverse environmental and visual impacts and is not sustainable at this highly sensitive location,” said the inspector in his report.
The decision to go to the High Court came on foot of massive opposition to the shock decision by An Bord Pleanála to overturn Cork County Council’s refusal of the proposal.
Councillors attending the Cork County Council meeting on February 14 suspended standing orders prior to engaging in an all out attack on the decision by An Bórd Pleanála. They voted unanimously to condemn the decision.
An online petition to ’save the beauty and tranquility of Gougane Barra attracted more than 12,000 signatures from forty countries around the world. A crowd funding campaign attracted more than €30,000 to ensure the local community council, Coiste Forbartha Bhéal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh, could launch a legal action in the High Court to contest the decision by An Bórd Pleanála and, in April, leave to seek a judicial review was granted.
This culminated in the notification on Thursday that the Bórd had decided not to contest the case at this point.
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