A planning application for a wind turbine ‘almost twice the height’ of the Knockagh monument has caused concern among residents of the borough.
The application for the 65-metre structure at Trooperslane, alongside separate plans for a 30-metre turbine close to the New Line, were the subject of a public meeting in Carrickfergus Town Hall on Monday night.
A crowd of approximately 150 people gathered in the Jubilee Room to voice their concerns over the applications, which have already been approved by the Planning Service.
With Carrickfergus Borough Council acting as consultees, an office meeting is due to be held tomorrow (Friday) between the local authority and Planning Service.
Representing the Hillview and Trooperslane householders at the meeting were Barry Patterson and Heather Barclay, who organised the event along with Liberty Road residents Robert and Yvonne Picken.
Mr and Mrs Picken, who previously challenged the plans for the smaller turbine 500 metres from their home, indicated they had also arranged for planning consultant David Donaldson and Windwatch chairman Dr Dan Kane to put forward their concerns on Friday.
Addressing the assembled crowd, Mr Patterson outlined the primary focus of the meeting was to encourage householders to submit their objections. “There are a lot of questions which need to be answered but as only a limited number of people will be accommodated at the meeting on Friday, we need to hear people’s views in order to put them to the planning officers and councillors,” he said.
“Unfortunately it seems as if the Planning Service are pushing ahead with these applications, so we have to make our voices heard and make them count. These applications have already been put back by the council so we have to try and get them to do that again; the fear is that if we allow one turbine to go up, it’ll only lead to 10 or 20 more.”
Heather Barclay, who was notified of the plans for the Trooperslane structure in early 2010, expressed fears the turbines had the potential to damage the surrounding landscape. “I was informed about the decision because my house was in something called the ‘blade flicker zone’; I thought by the sheer size of this application that it’d never be passed, but it has and it will ruin the landscape of Carrick as far as I can see,” she said.
Highlighting the scale of the Trooperslane turbine was David Corbett, who alleged the structure’s hub alone would be “taller than two Knockagh monuments”. The impact of the application on the upcoming A2 upgrade scheme was also raised.
Meanwhile, potential health issues resulting from blade flicker, vibration and sleep deprivation were among some of the issues flagged up by concerned residents, with the viewpoint that an increased number of turbines could be seen as a tourist attraction angrily rejected.
Answering a query from one householder over a noticeable increase in the number of turbine applications in recent years, Mr Corbett said: “The government has a responsibilty to meet EU ‘green energy’ regulations to produce a certain number of turbines every day.”
Suggestions that the Assembly could adopt a similar approach to other parts of the UK in promoting ‘off-shore’ turbines were considered, as well as increasing the minimum distance between a planned turbine and any residential properties.
Members of Carrick Council, who were attending a separate series of Committee meetings on Monday evening, came under fire from several of those assembled. “If these applications have already come before the council, they should let constituents know about them. Councillors were invited, should have come down after their meeting to listen to our objections and let us know they’re are behind us,” one resident said.
Alderman May Beattie and Cllr Billy Hamilton, joining the crowd during the final stages of the meeting, claimed that elected representatives were unaware of any invitation. “We did not know this was going to be going on, but I will be at the office meeting on Friday to support all residents and speak on their behalf,” Ald Beattie said.
Speaking to the Carrick Times on Tuesday, Mr Picken indicated that organisers were “very pleased” with the public response to the meeting. “It was organised somewhat quickly but we felt it went very well in that it gave us a good indication of the range of concerns people have; it also let any residents know how they could access the Planning Service website to put in their objections,” he said.
“People are looking for answers and unfortunately without the experts some of these we weren’t able to provide at the time, but the important thing is to encourage each and every person there to put in their individual objection. These application are often approved unless there is a significant amount of objections from people living nearby.”
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