A major wind farm straddling the uplands of the Cork-Kerry border, across 32 townlands, has been given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála.
The application, by ESB Wind Development Ltd, for Grousemount wind farm, which runs 17km northeast of Kenmare to 14km along the Cork border to the southwest of Ballyvourney, had been lodged directly with An Bord Pleanála last September as a strategic infrastructure development.
The total site area is 1,465 hectares of privately owned land which is to be leased by the ESB.
The application was accompanied by letters of consent from 28 landowners, including Coillte.
The planning board has now granted permission for 25 years and the development is to commence within 10 years.
The planning board has also assessed the costs associated with the application at more than €66,000, mainly associated with inspectors’ time.
The proposed wind farm comprises 38 turbines with a hub height of up to 80 metres, each with a 2.5 -3.5 (MW) rating, on foundations and standings. The turbines will have a rotor diameter of up to 112 metres. The overall height of the structures will be up to 126 meters.
However the board’s inspector found that the turbines, in clusters, will be largely hidden although some will be visible from Moll’s Gap on the Ring of Kerry.
The application represents a revision and an amalgamation of two previous planning applications granted permission, one in 2010 and the second in 2012.
The same number of turbines are involved but there are differences in output.
Roads and tracks linking the consented windfarms are included in the application.
The farm will span the N22 at Ballyvourney and a temporary bridge crossing the Sullane River at Ballyvourney will have to be built.
The proposal has its own website at Grousemountwindfarm.ie
The townlands include those of Sillerthane near Kilgarvan, the Gaeltacht area of Coolea, Gortnatubrid on the Cork side and Barnastooka and Clonkeen in Co. Kerry.
Some 17 prescribed bodies have been notified, including both Cork and Kerry County Councils, a number of government departments, the Heritage Council, An Taisce, Failte Ireland, Inland Fisheries Ireland, the Irish Aviation Authority, the Geological Survey of Ireland and Irish Water and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The NPWS had recommended refusal because the farm is within the range of the introduced white-tailed sea eagle.
The board’s inspector noted that the turbines, which will be in clusters, would not be highly visible along the R569 Killarney to Kenmare road.
However, some will be seen from Moll’s and the scenic road to Killarney Gap along the Kerry Way and the inspector warns of noise emission during construction.
The conditions include that turbines are to be light grey in colour and cables are to be laid underground; noise measures and flicker restrictions are to be complied with. Cumulative shadow flicker is not to exceed 30 minutes in any day or 30 hours in any year.
The ESB applicant had lodged more than €100,000 with the application. The board has now determined the costs as €66,220 for inspectors’ time.
Some €38,380 is now to be refunded to the applicant, the board ruled.