COUNCILLORS were united this week in condemning the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for a windfarm at Gougane Barra.
While recognising that there is need for wind energy, councillors agreed that Gougane Barra, which is an important tourist and scenic area, is not a suitable area for the windfarm.
Cllr Gobnait Moynihan (FF) pointed out that not only was the local community against it, but that Cork County Council had refused it planning permission. ‘It seems An Bord Pleanála ignored its own senior inspector who was also against the plan,’ said Cllr Moynihan.
Her colleague, Cllr Deirdre Kelly, said that Gougane Barra is ‘sacred to so many people’ and said the decision has to be challenged.
Cllr Michael Paul Murtagh (FG) – who got married at the church in Gougane Barra – described the decision to grant planning as ‘absolutely ridiculous’.
Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said Gougane Barra is an ‘iconic location’ and said he would hate to see brides’ veils blowing in the wind under the wind turbines.
Cllr Ross O’Connell (SD) described the decision as ‘bananas’ and warned that it might damage the reputation of renewal energy.
Cllr Michael Looney (FF) said that whoever thought of putting wind turbines in Gougane Barra must be ‘off their game.’
Cllr Karen Coakley (FG) said it ‘defies logic’ while Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) said it was appalling and a ‘slap in the face’ to Cork County Council which had supported many other windfarm developments.
County mayor Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said she was ‘aghast’ at the decision.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey said that Cork County Council performed its functional duty in this regard and would not be able to comment beyond that.
Councillors agreed that they would write to both the Minister and An Bord Pleanála to highlight their objections to the plan.
Meanwhile, a petition set up in recent days by Coiste Forbatha Béal Átha ‘n Ghaorthaidh calling for a reversal of the planning permission already has almost 8,000 signatures.