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Village appeals for halt to windfarms in area

'Béal Átha'n Ghaorthaidh is surrounded by wind turbines'


The Cleanrath windfarm near Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh

The Cleanrath windfarm near Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh

The Cleanrath windfarm near Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh

The Múscraí Gaeltacht community of Béal Átha'n Ghaorthaidh is surrounded on all sides by windmills and is bracing itself this week for a decision by Cork County Council's planning department whether or not to allow a controversial windfarm and battery units proposal to go ahead near one of Ireland's premier tourist spots, Gougane Barra.

"We're surrounded on all sides almost and we understand other windfarms are planned - it's time for Cork County Council to say 'stop!'" said Tadhg Ó Duinnín, the chairman of the local development committee, Coiste Forbartha Bhéal Átha'n Ghaorthaidh.

"I wouldn't say there's another village in Ireland which has been surrounded by wind turbines in the same way!"

The decision on the Curraglass Windfarm and Battery Unit project, which has been submitted by Wingleaf Ltd, a company directed by Michael Murnane, who is involved in multiple windfarm projects, is expected tomorrow (Friday, August 28) .

It comes as another firm directed by the Macroom environmental entrepeneur applies for 'substitute consent' to retain the windfarm developed at Cleanrath, which overlooks the village of Béal Átha'n Ghaorthaidh.

The proposed Curraglass development, which is located on the Céim an Fhia pass, not far from Gougane, comprises seven of the tallest wind turbines ever seen in Ireland, measuring 178m from base to the highest point of the blade, as well as four battery storage units.

This proposed development replaces a decommissioned windfarm at the same site.

That windfarm was taken down a number of years ago when one of the turbines caught fire.

One of the conditions of the original application stipulated that the site should be restored to its natural state after the development's term of 20 years came to a close. That windfarm was decommissioned, however, before its term was complete.

A petition organised by the local Coiste Forbartha/Development Committee gathered 380 signatures of locals opposed to the development along with more than fifty other submissions

Work at the Cleanrath Wind Farm, which has 9 turbines measuring 150m to the highest point of their blades, had ceased following the successful legal challenge by a local couple to the original planning decision. The Supreme Court decided in December to uphold the appeal of Klaus Balz and Hanna Heubach. They had challenged the An Bórd Pleanála decision because of a failure to assess the impact of noise pollution from the project.

The couple, who run a horticultural business at Barr na Gaoithe near Inchageela, applied to the High Court earlier this Summer seeking an order to compel the developer to cease work at the site as it no longer had planning permission for the development.

"We feel rotten since we saw the site notice go up," Klaus Balz told The Corkman.

"Our solicitor is preparing a submission at the moment.

"We feel the system is rigged in favour of developments like this as it appears anybody can go ahead with a windfarm and then apply for a retention."

The decision on the Cleanrath development is a matter for An Bórd Pleanála rather than Cork County Council as the country's highest planning authority had granted the permission which was subsequently overturned.

Earlier this year locals complained that wind turbines were interfering with RTE reception.