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Locals concerned at plans for wind farm

East Cork will be home to the tallest on-shore wind turbines in the country, visible from parts of Cork City, if permission to build is granted, according to locals opposed to the project.

Ardglass Wind Farm Ltd has lodged an application seeking 10-year planning permission for construction of a wind farm consisting of 11 turbines, each with a maximum tip height of 156.5m, almost double the height of the 81m Elysian Tower, when you include its decorative pinnacle.

The proposed wind farm will lie between the villages of Dungourney, Castlelyons, Lisgoold and Ballynoe, in an area known locally as Hogan’s Wood on land owned by Coillte and three local landowners.

Ardglass Wind Turbine Awareness Action Group is holding a meeting tonight to urge people to make submissions to Cork County Council if they have concerns about the proposed project. Submissions must be made before Jun 25.

“Everybody’s opinion is valid and will be taken on board by the planning authority, but people need to engage and they have just five weeks to do so,” said action group spokesman Stephen Doyle.

Mr Doyle, an architect, has already outlined a number of concerns in relation to the proposed wind farm, namely the visual impact, the noise impact, including blade “swish” and a low frequency noise, and the “flicker effect” which occurs where the rotating blades cast a flickering shadow over windows in a nearby house. Mr Doyle claims the proposed turbines will be within three-and-a-half kilometres of 323 homes. Local residents are concerned about the potential impact on health, the environment and property prices.

The Irish 2006 Wind Energy Guidelines suggest that wind turbines should be located at a minimum distance of 500 metres from family homes – usually referred to as the setback distance – but the guidelines did not cater for an increase in average turbine sizes. Tonight’s meeting takes place in Lisgoold Community Hall at 8.30pm. It will be addressed by environmentalist Peter Crossan and by Philip Hickey, whose Wexford home is just 375m from a turbine.

Previously Ardglass Wind Farm Ltd, an associated company of Lissarda-based Enerco Energy Ltd, said, in developing their proposal, “extensive studies of the wildlife in the area, archaeology, hydrology and every aspect has been undertaken to compile a comprehensive environmental impact assessment”. They would also be “glad to deal with any particular issues individual house owners may have”.

According to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), 1,630MW of wind capacity had been installed at the end of Dec 2011. In order to achieve our national targets for renewable electricity by 2020 (40%), an estimated 5,500MW-6,000MW of wind generation is required.

The use of renewable energy avoided the emission of about 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2011, according to the SEAI.