Call for wind farm ban in scenic areas

A call has been made for a ban on wind farms in scenic areas of Kerry and West Cork.

An Taisce’s Kerry branch has urged that the Dingle, Iveragh and Beara peninsulas, and Killarney, be designated as “no-go” areas for wind energy development.

Studies have reflected concerns among tourists about adverse impacts of turbines on the picturesque environment, including a 2007 Fáilte Ireland survey, and An Taisce said the best protection for the tourism industry was to have no wind farms in scenic areas.

An Taisce has made a detailed submission on the issue to Kerry County Council, which is considering a draft renewable energy strategy that, when adopted, will be incorporated into the County Development Plan.

In the draft, some mountainous areas along the famous Ring of Kerry tourist route (Iveragh Peninsula) are “open to consideration” for wind farm development.

These include the Caherciveen Valley, described as a highly scenic and historic area, where wind turbines “would introduce an industrial type installation and would be inappropriate”, according to An Taisce.

The Inny Valley, also open to consideration, is overlooked by mountains which are popular with walkers and turbines would impact views from the top as well as from below, it also claimed.

An Taisce submitted these areas, and Sneem, should be protected for tourism and recreation and were not suitable for turbines.

Several individuals from Iveragh have also sent in submissions highlighting their opposition.

Caherciveen-based Fine Gael Cllr PJ Donovan said: “There’s great concern among local people in the Inny Valley. This is a scenic area which should not be open to consideration for wind farms.”

Paul Stack, senior planning engineer with the council, said there was a national grid connection to Iveragh, which could be upgraded. Also, the area had no Natura 2000 sites (on which wind farms are prohibited) and wind conditions there were suitable for energy generation.

He also said all the areas mentioned had a backdrop of mountains that would lessen the impact of wind farms on the landscape.

Mr Stack pointed out: “Open to consideration does not mean we will grant planning permissions all over the place.”

The council is to carry out an environmental impact assessment on the amendments proposed to the draft. The revised plan will then go out again for public consultation with a view to bringing it back before the council in October.

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