Communities in Inchigeela and neighbouring Réidh na nDoirí are to fight against a wind farm proposal – which, it was claimed on Monday, already has plans to extend further.
Up to 100 people attended a public meeting at Inchigeela Community Hall on Monday night, where father and son Michael and Paddy Crowley from Graigue, Inchigeela, outlined the background to the proposed 11-turbine wind farm at Cleanrath and Derrineanig, which is being developed by Cleanrath Windfarm Ltd. (Enerco Energy Ltd)
Paddy Crowley, who chaired the meeting, outlined the developer’s lack of consultation with the local community and the lack of information regarding connection to the ESB grid.
Mr Crowley said that no mitigating measures could reduce the spatial dominance and visual impact of the sheer size of the turbines, which were out of proportion with any existing natural feature or development in the area. With a ground to hub height of 85m and the rotor diameter of 82m, the height from blade to tip is 126m twice the height of County Hall and 5m taller than the spire on O’Connell Street, and he also claimed that the EIS had misrepresented the location of the site.
Paddy Crowley further outlined that the proposed wind farm was contrary to the 2009 County Development Plan in that it was not located in or adjacent to a ‘Strategic Search Area,’ ie areas that have both relatively high wind speeds and relatively low landscape sensitivity to wind projects where developers are encouraged to focus for suitable sites.
It was also contrary to the plan’s policy for preservation of heritage and environment, he claimed, in that the wind farm would be highly-visible in an area of high scenic and visual importance, listed as a Scenic Landscape in the County Development Plan and prominently visible from five scenic routes, as described in the plan, and close to both Renaniree and Inchigeela, both described as having high ‘landscape value’ and high ‘landscape sensitivity’.
Mr Crowley maintains that the wind farm will also dominate Lough Allua, a proposed Natural Heritage Area, having significant value due mainly to its diversity of habitats and the presence of a number of protected species.’
Kevin Buckley, from Réidh na nDoirí, speaking from the floor, revealed to the meeting that a road was already built at the northern side of the hill and that land was purchased across the road near the Mouth of the Glen, which according to the landowner was also for a wind farm.
The eventual size of the development – of which the current plan was described as only ‘the southern tip’ – would allow potential access into the Kerry grid, Mr Buckley said.
‘The road is built in the next townland. Land is bought in the next farm. The sheer size will be massive. The visual impact will be crucifying,’ Mr Buckley claimed.
The Irish Peatland Conservation Council has stated that it cannot support the development as it threatens the survival of protected peatland habitat just 2km from Lough Allua. The development the IPCC stated is in the flight path of migrating birds from the Gearagh SPA, SAC and pNHA.
A separate observation by John Vahey, who campaigned on the powerline issue regarding the Carriganima windfarm, noted that before any more wind farms are even considered in Cork, roads severely damaged due to construction work and cable laying for existing wind farms be corrected by the developers and not left for Cork County Council.
Value of experience
Mr Joe Burke, who successfully sought to have power lines from a wind farm near Bantry put underground, gave the meeting the value of his experience, advising the gathering that ‘people power is best of all.’
The lack of information on connection to the ESB grid is a major cause for concern locally and concerns were raised in relation to the power line’s possible health implications.
Other concerns included proximity to residential property, devaluation of property, health implications, safety concerns, including potential peat slide, destruction of wildlife habitats and risk to Lough
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Allua and the Gearagh, interference with water supplies, disruption of TV signals, with the turbines in a direct path with Mullaghanish, and the fact that the turbine model type was not outlined. The developer, who was invited to the meeting, was not present.
One speaker from the floor, who said he did not oppose wind energy per se, added that this was a ‘very special area’.
The planning application and EIS are available for viewing by the public at the Macroom County Council offices during office hours. Copies are available on CD from the planning office at County Hall.
A petition was signed by those attending and a committee was formed. Those attending were encouraged to submit observations on the planning application by the deadline of July 13th.
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