A Carrick couple have voiced their concerns over a planning application for a wind turbine near their home.
Yvonne and Robert Picken received notification last month of the plans for a 45-metre turbine close to their property on Liberty Road, which overlooks Carrick and Belfast Lough.
They believe the application, submitted by Belfast-based renewable energy company Aircore, raises a number of safety concerns.
“We’ve lived here for 30 years and one thing people always comment on is the beautiful view we have from our house, but the possibility of that being spoiled is not the only thing we’re worried about,” said Robert.
“During last winter, the heavy snow and ice actually brought down some of the electricity pylon wires around here,” added Yvonne.
“If ice were to build up on a turbine’s blades, then we have the possibility of it being thrown from the blades when they thaw and start turning again. There’s a gas pumping station quite close to the site, so that could be dangerous.
“We also get a lot of light reflected up here off the Lough, and I’m worried about the effects if it starts ‘strobing’ when the rotor blades are active, not to mention the noise from the blades turning.”
A possible loss of habitat for wildlife in the nearby area was also cause for concern. “There are a lot of different birds nesting in the area, and I wouldn’t like to think that they would all disappear if the turbine were to be built,” Yvonne said.
However, the couple praised the response of both the Council and the Planning Service to their worries over the proposed project. “We’re delighted that both the Planning Office and the Council will be sending someone out to look at the site,” said Robert.
“It’s not that we’re against wind power or renewable energy; we realise that the government has certain targets to meet and so on. But there must be other sites that can be considered; as I understand it, other European countries are now building these turbines offshore,” added Yvonne.
Meanwhile, the potential of any safety hazards connected to the turbine was refuted by Aircore. “These machines are capable of operating in temperatures of up to -30 degrees Celsius and are installed throughout Europe; such ice throw incidents are extremely infrequent and do not pose a risk,” a statement from the company read.
“If it was a quantifiable risk, we would be asked to complete the necessary report and risk assessment by the appropriate statutory consultee in the planning application process.”
Claims that the turbine would pose a risk to the surrounding landscape were also identified as minimal.
“All necessary required wildlife studies are requested by the statutory consultee, NIEA. To date we have not received any requests to complete any studies relating to flora or fauna,” the statement added.
“The proposed turbine location is not located within any designated wildlife, scientific or protected area, suggesting that it is of low biodiversity value.”
A representative from the Planning Service confirmed that the application has yet to go before the local authority.
“The application is still at it’s early stages and is under consideration, so these issues have yet to be examined,” the spokesperson said.
A report from the Carrickfergus Borough Council’s Environmental Services department will also be part of the planning process. “As a consultee, we would be concerned with the possibility of noise pollution and shadow flicker resulting from the turbine,” said Director of Environmental Services Alan Barkley.
“We would have to visit the site to assess this. However, the visual impact of the application would not be something that our department would consider.”
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