The battle to protect rural areas in South Tipperary from a proliferation of wind turbines is intensifying with communities uniting to combat the threat.
The South Tipperary communities of Ahenny and Hollyford are embroiled in a campaign to prevent their unique rural areas from being invaded by wind turbines.
Campaigners in Hollyford have warned of residents being locked into “an open air prison” if planning permission is given for up to forty wind turbines at different locations on their beloved hills surrounding the village.
On Sunday November 12th on RTE I the campaign undertaken by the people of Ahenny, famous for its High Crosses, to block ‘monstrous aliens’ from damaging their unique countryside in the foothills of Slievenamon will be featured in a documentary.
“We have done everything in our power to protect our historic countryside from these alien, inefficient machines stalking Ireland’s rural landscape. We live in a designated conservation area within a protected view, surrounded by some of the most ancient archaeology in the country. To rip it all up and turn it into an outdoor power plant would be a travesty” said Mairead Sheehan of the Ahenny Action Group.
These two high profile campaigns highlight the massive opposition to wind turbines throughout South Tipperary.
The people of Hollyford are outraged by the manner in which companies have targeted their area for wind turbines. To their dismay Hollyford is designated as a preferred area for wind development in the Draft Wind Policy of South Tipperary County Council and residents are determined not to allow their area to be overrun with wind turbines.
“If planning permission is granted to companies seeking to provide the turbines the visual effect will be that of two giant rings of steel bars on either side of the village, giving the effect of ‘an open air prison’ said Martin McHugh, Chairman of the Hollyford Wind Mill Group.
Residents of the village could have to look and listen to up to forty wind turbines if companies get the green light from the County Council.
“The fact that Hollyford is named in the draft policy as a preferred area will make it easier for companies to get permission. We are canvassing councillors and officials to amend that draft and not to have Hollyford named a designated site for wind turbines in the final policy,” said Martin McHugh.
Planning permission has already been granted to one company to erect thirteen turbines in the Glengar/Moanvauan townlands. Another eleven turbines are proposed by the Eco Wind Company at Foilmacduff and another company has sought planning permission for up to fifteen turbines at Turaheen.
Stunned locals have attended three public meetings in the last month to discuss the implications for their village.
“Those meetings were attended by large numbers of people who voiced their concern about the proposals which would ruin our countryside. Obviously we cannot ban them altogether in this area but we don’t want to be overrun by these things,” said Martin McHugh.
The Hollyford action group said that shadow flicker, electromagnetic interference and the typical droning noise of turbines, will effect a number of houses in the upland areas as they lie within 500m. They are also concerned about house values and fear they will fall drastically should the turbines go ahead.
“AT the Eco Wind Company open day in Hollyford last Friday some local people were in tears while others vented their frustration at company representatives when shown a photographic display of turbines on their beloved hills,” said Martin McHugh.
The Hollyford group has called on the County Council to limit the number of turbines in the area and has asked the local authority to re-consider their wind development policy for the Hollyford area.
A similar battle against wind turbines is being waged in Ahenny. Their campaign will be featured in a documentary on RTE I at 5.30 on Sunday November 12th. It will be presented by local teacher Genevieve Cooney, a member of the action group.
“It is out intention to stop it and fight it every inch of the way,” said Mairead Sheehan of the Ahenny Action Group.
Last week 350 submissions were presented to South Tipperary County Council to have the area zoned unsuitable for wind power stations.
The group spokesperson Mairead Sheehan said that written pleas to protect the area were also entered by numerous national environmental and heritage groups including An Taisce and Friends of the Irish Environment.
Their campaign began in March when residents learned of plans to construct a wind farm comprising of 400 foot turbines in fields close to the ancient crosses at the foothills of Slievenamon.
“We are delighted that our hard work over the last eight months and the lovely area we are trying to protect is going to be shown on national television,” said Mairead Sheehan.
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