Councillors in Kerry have unanimously rejected a ministerial request to change their recently adopted wind policy and vastly increase the area where turbines would be “permitted" in the county.
Earlier this summer, councillors opted to restrict any further wind turbines to a narrow corridor along the Cork-Kerry border in its county development plan 2022-2028.
Following the intervention of the Office of the Planning Regulator, Minister of State for Local Government Peter Burke put Kerry County Council on notice of his intention to revise its plan and to permit turbines from Abbeydorney to the outskirts of Tralee, Castleisland to Cordal, Beaufort to Killorglin and the outskirts of Killarney.
The direction was also to replace “open to consideration” with the more permissive “permitted in principle” for turbines.
The policy adopted by councillors was “ inconsistent” with the policy objectives of the National Planning Framework to promote renewable energy to meet national targets for a low-carbon economy by 2050, the minister said.
A special planning meeting of councillors in Tralee heard the public had two weeks to make submissions on the matter. Of the 785 received, the majority opposed the ministerial direction.
Councillors said, with 364 turbines, more than any other county, and others in the pipeline, Kerry had “done enough for wind” for the national grid.
The chief executive of Kerry County Council will now compile a report for the minister and the Office of the Planning Regulator on the views of the members and the public.
It will then be up to the minister to decide on the advice of the OPR whether to override the county development plan as agreed by the locally elected council. However, councillors can take a judicial review of any such intervention, they have warned.
Heritage groups, environmental campaigners and wind awareness groups submitted the minister's proposals risked destroying valuable carbon-storing peatlands and risked further dividing communities and scarring the landscape.