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Mandatory guidelines for windfarms demanded

Only mandatory guidelines for the erection and operation of windfarms will be acceptable to people in East Connemara as the number of wind turbines in the area continues to multiply.

This is the view of Fine Gael Galway West TD Sean Kyne who is also demanding windfarm developers be required to engage in public consultation in advance of making planning applications.

“Guidelines must be mandatory if they are to have any effect, otherwise they will not be adhered to,” Dep Kyne told the Galway Advertiser. “The areas affected may be sparsely populated, but if your house is beside a turbine it has a huge impact.”

Concerns over future planning applications for windfarms in East Connemara has grown in recent times as to date, 108 wind turbines – most of the which are 120m tall – have been granted permission in an 8km radius of Moycullen, An Spidéal, Furbo, and Barna.

However locals are concerned the existing turbines have a negative impact on the landscape; are too close to houses, and with the levels of noise pollutio. A further concern relates to ‘shadow-flicker’, where sunlight coming into a house in constantly interrupted by the rotating blades. In some cases its effects have been linked with triggering epileptic fits.

The concerns led to protests outside County Buildings last November and a public meeting in Moycullen on Tuesday between windfarm developers, local concern groups, and Galway County Council officials.

“We can’t do anything about those windfarms that are already built, but we can take steps to address concerns in future windfarms,” said Dep Kyne. “A moratorium has been called for on planning applications for windfarms but you cannot actually stop people from lodging applications. However there are other ways to address concerns.”

The TD wants to see the Guidelines for Wind Energy Developments, which have been in place since 2006, “brought up to date and made mandatory”. The current guidelines are not specific on the issues of noise or shadow flicker.

Dep Kyne said the new guidelines must make mandatory a minimum set-back distance to reduce problems of noise and shadow-flicker; mandatory and increased public consultation with residents and communities at the early planning stages; and recognition of the difference between large scale wind energy harnessing and micro-generation wind turbines.