They call it the ‘Monster of Mullavilly’ – a 47-metre high wind turbine with 37-metre blades, which assaults the senses of residents in the between Portadown and Tandragee.
Their dearest wish is that the turbine will soon we gone with the wind, as they step up their campaign to have it dismantled, “so that we can get some sleep, that we don’t have to put up with the blinding strobe effect it causes in sunlight as the blades rotate, that we will be rid for ever of this perennial eyesore”.
The erection of the turbine began in December 2010 to provide power for Rapid International, an engineering factory in the village which designs equipment and machinery for the concrete industry.
Some 30 homes are affected by the noise and visual impact. The campaign to have the turbine removed is led by resident Andrew White, with around 12 residents gathering in his home to underline their objections.
Violet Wright recalled that the planners advertised it in the local press around Christmas 2009, “at a time when people simply don’t have time to scour the local papers”. Andrew White insisted, “None of us got the neighbourhood notification letter, and by the time it was being constructed, it seemed a fait accompli.”
Veronica Madden commented, “It was up and turning by the spring of 2011, and – with no experience of what problems a turbine causes – we didn’t have much ground for complaint while it was being constructed, although it looked as if Rapid were building an inland lighthouse.”
Said lorry driver Stephen Taylor, “When it’s in full flow, it keeps us awake at night, with a noise that veers between a stranded jet plane and a hurricane.
“There are nights when I see every hour, and have to stop the lorry in a lay-by the next day to have a sleep.
“And the strobe effect as the blades turn is the sun is so severe that I’ve had to have blackout curtains installed in the house. In fact, I once had to bring a barbecue and guests indoors, as we were virtually blinded.”
Veronica Madden said that she sometimes went to her sister’s house to get a decent night’s sleep and Thomas Adams told of a young family where the children were moved to the living room so that they could sleep, adding, “An awful lot of families around here are on sleeping tablets.”
Rapid once did a sound test, with microphones in four homes within a radius of around 180 metres, but the group said they had little confidence in the experiment “which should have been done by an outside, independent company – but it was in September last year, when there was something of a mild, windless Indian summer, and the blades were lifeless most of the time, anyway.”
Armagh City and District Council is in the throes of carrying out sound and sight experiments, and there have been several meetings with the planners.
Violet Wright added, “I was on a holiday in Carradale on the Kintyre Peninsula in Scotland recently, and the peace and quiet there was palpable. I returned home to Mullavilly on the Saturday night when the turbine was on full decibels and I simply burst out crying that I had to put up with this again. That’s the effect this thing has on this community, and it can’t continue.”
Rapid International managing director Mark Lappin said the company undertook “all normal steps in the planning approval process” and full approval was granted. He said, “In compliance with the Northern Ireland Planning Service the company had noise level tests conducted by a fully independent company and the results complied with all necessary requirements.
“The sole aim of the wind turbine project is to meet the company’s ‘green initiative’ which ensures a sustainable future, enabling us to provide continued employment for the local community.”
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