Saint Finbarr's Oratory chapel in Co Cork. Alamy Stock Photo
gougane barra

Community group wins campaign to prevent wind farm from being set up in West Cork

Coiste Forbatha Bheal Átha an Ghaorthaidh had been pursuing legal action against An Bord Pleanála in relation to the proposed wind farm.

A COMMUNITY GROUP in Gougane Barra, in west Cork, has succeeded in its campaign to halt plans to erect seven 178.5m high wind turbines immediately south of the tourist destination and less than three kilometres from the iconic St Finbarr’s Oratory in the Lee Valley.

A ‘Save Gougane Barra’ public appeal raised over €60,000 towards the costs of community committee Coiste Forbatha Bheal Átha an Ghaorthaidh in fighting the legal case against the proposed wind farm.

The committee had indicated that the turbines would have been “visible from the Gougane Barra skyline, altering the magic and tranquility of this unique place of peace and pilgrimage forever.”

The group had been contesting a decision by An Bord Pleanála to overturn a decision by Cork County Council to refuse a planning application for the Wing Leaf Ltd turbine wind farm.

At the end of April, leave was given to appeal An Bord Pleanála’s decision through a judicial review in the High Court.

In a statement the campaigners said that the planning authority has indicated that it will not be continuing its defence of a legal action brought by the group, to contest An Bord Pleanála’s decision to overturn Cork County Council’s planning permission refusal.

Campaign spokesman Neil Lucey of the Gougane Barra Hotel expressed his delight at the result.

“We feel that justice has been done, common sense prevails, and democracy (is) restored in this situation. We thank the people locally, nationally and an internationally, who believed in us, supported us and were also there. We wish to recognise the great work of Joe Noonan of Noonan Linehan Carroll Coffey LLP and their legal teams for an outstanding effort.”

Over 12,000 people had signed a petition in opposition of the project on with campaigners saying that the international support they received played a huge part in sustaining the impetus they needed in order to have this positive outcome. Individuals from 42 countries had signed the petition.

Meanwhile, Cork County Council’s original refusal of permission for the wind farm stated that it would “provide for a highly intrusive, visually domineering form of development that debases the integrity and the landscape character.”

However, when granting permission to the €30 million project in February, An Bord Pleanála said that the wind farm would make a positive contribution to the implementation of Ireland’s national strategic policy on renewable energy and its move to a low energy carbon future.

The planning authority said it did not agree that the proposed development would detract from the existing character of the area.

The planned development would have led to the construction of the highest ever wind turbines in Co Cork.

Supporting infrastructure would have included a 38kV electricity substation, battery banks, quarries, deforestation, access roads, site draining and widening of an access junction on the Shehy Mountains overlooking Gougane Barra.

Olivia Kelleher
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