THE campaigners behind a bid to overturn planning permission for a windfarm overlooking the stunning West Cork Gougane Barra area have been successful.
In a statement this morning, the campaigners say that planning appeals board An Bord Pleanála has confirmed that it will not contest or oppose the case, and concedes to the High Court the making of a High Court Order quashing the An Bord Pleanála decision to grant planning permission to Wingleaf Ltd for the development of up to seven wind turbines and associated works in the much-loved popular walking and wedding location.
The development was to be the biggest windfarm ever proposed in Co Cork.
An Bord Pleanála gave the green light to a controversial €30m wind farm project in February after it had been refused planning permission by Cork County Council because of the negative impact on scenic landscape.
The planned development would have involved the construction of the biggest wind turbines ever proposed for Co Cork (178.5m), which would have been 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 be excessively domineering from very many vantage points over a wide area’.
The An Bord Pleanála ruling also ran contrary to the recommendation of its 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 …’
The decision to go to the High Court came on foot of massive opposition to the shock decision by An Bord Pleanála to overturn Cork County Council’s refusal of the proposal.
A petition launched in opposition to the windfarm attracted more than 10,000 signatures in just over a week. People from over 40 countries around the world signed it, establishing this as far more than a local issue, according to campaigner and local hotelier Neil Lucey.
‘Our solicitors report that An Bord Pleanála has confirmed that it will not contest or oppose the case and concedes at this point. We are delighted with this great result, we feel that justice has been done, common sense prevails, and democracy restored in this situation,’ said Mr Lucey, of the Gougane Barra Hotel.
‘We thank the people locally, nationally and internationally, who believed in us, supported us and were always there. We wish to recognise the great work of Joe Noonan of Noonan Linehan Carroll Coffey LLP and their legal teams for outstanding effort, Maith sibh.’