There are eight UNESCO designated listings on the island of Ireland (three World Heritage sites, three Global Geoparks and two Man and Biosphere Reserves). Geoparks received this status in November 2015.
Geoparks differ from the other listings in that there is a formal re-validation of status every four years; this entails an independent review by experienced experts on performance, financial sustainability etc. and is a detailed exercise. Following the review a Geopark may be given a clean bill of health (a green card), areas indicated for improvement within a defined period (a yellow card) or the status removed (a red card). The Copper Coast Geopark received a green card review in 2015.
A further difference is that Geopark status carries no additional legislative requirement other than that covered by local or national legislation – this also applies to planning legislation. Sites of scientific importance within the Geopark are listed and monitored by the Geological Survey of Ireland. Thus the UNESCO designation would not prohibit the development of a wind farm within the Geopark unless it was to potentially damage designated sites of scientific importance. Many Geoparks have wind farms within their boundaries.
Most of the board members and volunteers involved in the running of CCG are members of the community and known to the community and give their time and effort in the hopes of benefitting the community. This community stretches from Garrarus to Ballyvoile.
It is disappointing that anyone who knows any of us would suggest that in any way the Copper Coast Geopark has been ‘bought off’. Nor have we ever been approached to that end.
Individual members and volunteers involved with the Geopark are of course welcome and free to take any stance on this issue as individuals and there may be a broad spectrum of views within the organisation.
Copper Coast Geopark has never and will never take a stance on any side on any issue that could be described as inter-community or divisive.
We may make independent submissions to appropriate bodies as relevant to our remit as a UNESCO Global Geopark.
We do have faith in the Planning Process and will no doubt subscribe to that as we see fit or necessary.
The proposed Windfarm has understandably become an emotive issue; we would urge that facts and figures are used with care and that alternative views, situations and dilemmas are treated with due respect so that the whole community can remain whole when the dust finally settles.