Ardglass Wind Farm Ltd. has now lodged a formal planning application with Cork County Council for a large scale windfarm. If granted, it would allow the highest on-shore wind turbines ever seen in Ireland or the UK to be established in East Cork.
The application for planning was lodged on Thursday last for an 11 turbine wind farm between the villages of Dungourney, Castlelyons, Lisgoold and Ballynoe. Each turbine is proposed to be 156.5 metres (513 feet) high, 115 feet higher than the Dublin spire.
The proposed development includes a sub-station with a control building and associated internal equipment, a septic tank and percolation area, three ‘borrow pits’, a meteorological mast, new internal access roads, upgrading of existing internal access roads and ancillary works. Cables for the development would be placed underground.
The turbines would be positioned across the townlands of Peafield, Portavarrig, Oldcourt, Ballynona North, Walshtown More (West) and Ballyogaha West.
The height of the turbines and overall scale of the development is a cause of concern for a number of residents in the areas affected who are worried about the visual and noise impact. Another concern is ‘shadow flicker’ caused inside homes when the sun shines behind the moving turbine blades, casting a flickering shadow which they say is akin to a light switch being turned on and off constantly. They’re also concerned at the lack of consultation by the developer with local residents. As a result the Ardglass Action Awareness Group was set up last August to voice their concerns.
Another serious worry for residents is that their property will be devalued if the development gets the go ahead. They say that those homes closest to the turbines will be unsaleable.
The Awareness Group also questions the ability of the windfarm to create jobs. “There’ll be no local jobs, just a few specialised temporary jobs from abroad. The wind farm will be controlled remotely after construction,” their PRO Stephen Doyle points out.
Ardglass Windfarm Ltd. is an associated company of Enerco Energy. That company, on its website, says “active collaboration is employed by Enerco at all stages of projects to ensure local issues and concerns are recognized and that local communities benefit from the development of our projects. Extensive community consultation is carried out to ensure that Enerco projects bring many benefits to local people and businesses and we are proud of the positive relationship we enjoy with the public as a result.” PRO Stephen Doyle says “that’s BS. Based on our experience they have completely failed to live up to that. They held one public meeting last August in Castlelyons. No meeting was held in Lisgoold. Many people weren’t told and didn’t know about the meetings and so could not attend. One resident who lives just 600 metres from where one of these 156.5 metre high turbines would be situated wasn’t even informed about the meeting. Then they went quiet for about nine months. There is no sense of engagement with people at all. If that’s what they consider public consultation why bother? It’s really unacceptable.”
In a statement to The Avondhu this week, the company said its public information event, which was advertised in local newspapers and took place on August 15 last year in Castlelyons was well attended. “The general feedback from the public was positive with many people happy with the information provided. The primary issues raised were addressed in the presentation material on the night and have been elaborated on in the environmental impact statement including a funding scheme for community groups. Further consultations were held with individuals to address their specific concerns. Some declined our offer of a meeting” the statement said.
It went on to state that the application for planning permission lodged with Cork County Council was accompanied by a comprehensive EIS which dealt with wildlife in the area, archaeology and hydrology. “The potential impacts on dwellings in the neighbourhood have been fully assessed in the EIS and shown to be within the DOEHLG guidelines,” it further stated. It concluded by saying “Ardglass Windfarm Ltd. will address any issues raised in the planning process and continue to be available to deal with any particular issue that individuals of the local community have in relation to the proposal.”
More than half of the turbines will be situated on Coillte land. The awareness group is disappointed at their lack of response when they raised the matter with the state forestry board. “We got one letter from them, saying it had nothing to do with them,” the group’s PRO says.
Members of the public have until Wednesday, June 12 to make submissions to Cork County Council about the development. The decision is expected from the Council in early July. The awareness group is planning another information meeting shortly at which they will advise people on how to make submissions and provide assistance if needed. They plan to have speakers at that meeting who are residents living near large wind turbines in other parts of the country.