A Gaeltacht community is set to challenge the permission granted to build a wind farm overlooking one of the most scenic areas of Cork, Gougane Barra near Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh.
Coiste Forbartha Bhéal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh (CFBÁG) is to launch a crowd funding appeal to gather a fighting fund of approximately €95,000 to seek a judicial review of the Bórd Pleanála decision last month to give the green light to the wind farm appeal by Wing Leaf Ltd, after it had been refused planning permission by Cork County Council because of the negative impact on scenic landscape. The Bórd also went against the recommendations of its own inspector and the advice of Fáilte Ireland.
The planned development would involve the construction of the biggest wind turbines ever proposed for County Cork. The proposed turbines will be 178.5m tall, from the ground to the top of the highest blade and would be visible on the Gougane Barra skyline.
Supporting infrastructure would include a 38kV electricity substation, battery banks, quarries, deforestation, access roads, site drainage and widening of an access junction on the Shehy Mountains overlooking Gougane Barra and the Pass of Keimaneigh.
In its refusal, Cork County Council said that the development would materially contravene the objectives of the Cork County Development Plan and “would beexcessively domineering from very many vantage points over a wide area”.
The ruling also runs contrary to the recommendation of An Bord Pleanála’s own senior planning inspector, who said: “This is a development that would have significant adverse environmental and visual impacts and is not sustainable at this highly sensitive location.”
Following legal advice, the local community council, CFBÁG have decided to apply to the High Court for judicial review of this controversial decision.
The decision to seek a judicial review comes on foot of massive opposition to the shock decision by An Bord Pleanála to overturn Cork County Council’s refusal of the proposal.
Councillors at the February 14 meeting of Cork County Council unanimously declared their opposition to the planned wind farm.
A petition launched on change.org in opposition to the wind farm has attracted more than 10,000 signatures in just over a week. People from over 40 countries around the world have signed,.
"This is far more than a local issue now,” said campaign spokesman Neil Lucey, the owner of Gougane Barra Hotel.
“The story has been gaining huge media attention locally, nationally and internationally.
“Opposition to the project reflects a huge spectrum of views, including from those who support wind energy but are appalled by the erosion of public trust which arises from this kind of poor decision-making,” he said.
“In order to proceed with this case, a substantial fighting fund will have to be raised in the next two weeks for an estimated sum of 95,000 Euro.
“Raising this amount of money is a difficult challenge for a small community. We invite everyone touched by the magic of Gougane Barra to join us in this fight to preserve it by making a contribution to the cause, no matter how small.
“If we exceed our goal, any excess funds will be used to enhance the community in the locality of Gougane Barra, for the residents and the many visitors who come here every year to share this haven with us.
“As the ancient Irish proverb goes: Ní neart go cur le chéile – there is no strength without unity.”
If you wish to donate, please follow this link: https://www.idonate.ie/fundraiser/SaveGouganeBarraFund