Saint Finbarr's Oratory in Gougane Barra, Cork Alamy Stock Photo

Opposition to wind farm near Cork's scenic Gougane Barra raised in Dáil

A Cork TD said the move has taken locals “very, very much by surprise”.

OPPOSITION TO A wind farm near Gougane Barra, a scenic valley in Cork, was raised in the Dáil this evening after An Bord Pleanála overturned a refusal to grant permission on the site.

An Bord Pleanála overturned a decision by Cork County Council earlier this week that had refused planning permission for the wind farm in 2020.

Cork North-West TD Aindrias Moynihan told the Dáil this evening that the move has taken locals “very, very much by surprise”.

“Cork County Council had refused the planning and so had the Board inspector. The proposal from the council was a very definite, adamant refusal,” Moynihan told the Dáil, raising the subject during Topical Issues.

“The Council’s planner said that the plan would materially contravene the objectives of the country development plan and provide a highly intrusive, visually domineering form of development that debases the integrity and the landscape character,” Moynihan said.

There’s an acknowledgment that alternative energy resources are needed and that wind energy is going to form part of that and there’s a great many wind farms already built across County Cork, seven of them locally. The situation though in Gougane Barra is about the suitability of the area.

“You cannot make another Gougane Barra but you can find other locations for a wind farm.”

He asked whether the importance of tourism in Gougane Barra had been considered in the decision.

aerial-view-of-gougane-barra-island-county-cork-ireland Aerial view of Gougane Barra. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

In response, Minister of State for Local Government and Planning Peter Burke said it was not his role to comment on specific planning permissions.

“The Minister for Housing, Local Government, and Heritage’s role in relation to the planning system is primarily to provide policy and legislative framework under which planning authorities, An Bord Pleanála and the office of the planning regulator perform their statutory planning functions,” Burke said.

“The day to day operation of the planning system is a matter for the planning authorities and for the board in relation to planning appeals and strategic infrastructure development,” he said.

“In making decisions on a planning application, a planning authority or the board as appropriate must consider the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

He said that the “Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage is specifically precluded from exercising power or control in relation to any particular case by which the planning authority or An Bord Pleanála may be concerned”.

“As a consequence it would not be appropriate for me to comment in relation to any individual planning case or cases.

“However, it is important to be aware that Ireland has set an increased goal under the revised Climate Action Plan of up to 80% of our electricity from renewable generation by the end of the decade.

“An electricity grid driven by renewable energy sources will contribute to Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets by substituting primarily wind and solar electricity generation for fossil fuel electricity generation as well as displacing emissions in other sectors, for example through the electrification of car transport.”

Moynihan said locals accept there must be a switch to renewable energy but argued that some places are more appropriate than others for constructing wind farms.

The planned wind farm would include seven turbines 178.5m tall.

Schemes to develop onshore and offshore wind energy form a significant proportion of the renewable aims in the Climate Action Plan 2021.

The revised plan increased Ireland’s target for renewable energy from 70% to “up to 80%” by 2030 as part of wider goals to cut emissions in half by the end of the decade. 

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