Planning officials at Cork County Council have recommended that a windfarm which is proposed for a location in the Múscraí Gaeltacht and straddling the border with Kerry should be rejected by An Bórd Pleanála because it would have an adverse impact on local ecological diversity.
The 14 turbine wind farm has been proposed for Gort Uí Rathaille/Gortyrahilly between the villages of Cúil Aodha and Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh with turbine height being 185m.
As the proposed development has been designated a strategic development, the ultimate decision whether to allow the development or not is for An Bórd Pleanála rather than Cork County Council. The authority’s report was presented as a recommendation to reject rather than a decision of a planning authority.
In a report presented by Michael Lynch to the Council at its meeting on Monday, the Planning Department set out its objections to the proposal.
Citing the objective in the County Development Plan ‘to protect and where possible enhance areas of local biodiversity value, ecological corridors and habitats, the document presents the council said that the facilitation of the proposed development would ‘ultimately result in the .oss of a significant area of Annex 1 Habitat and thus further reduce the extent of these diminishing and pressurised habitats at both a county and national level’.
"There are significant concerns relating to this proposal regardingits location within habitats of county and national importance and the inadequacy of the information and assessment provided by way of supporting documentation,” the report states.
The report cites a lack of sufficient detail in the Natura Impact Statement which accompanied the proposal that the dev.elopment, should it go ahead, would not have adverse effects on the Killarney National Park, the Macgillycuddy Reeks and the Caragh Lake Catchment Special Area of Conservation as well the Mullaghanish to Musheramore Special Protection Area.
"It is the considered view of Cork County Council that based on the information submitted and the detailed assessment provided above that a refusal should be issued by An Bórd Pleanála.”
While the Council’s planning department’s submission will be sent to An Bórd Pleanála and must be done prior to November 22, only one councillor spoke on the matter at the Council.
"I am a long time supporter of wind energy," said Cllr Gerard Murphy. The Fine Gael councillor cited the current concentration at EU level on energy and said that while he supported biodiversity, it might be necessary to give the need for energy the priority on this occasion.