There were angry scenes at a public information meeting in Dunmanway on Tuesday night to unveil plans for a wind farm in the scenic area of Shehy More between the Lee Valley and Dunmanway.
Representatives of Shehy More Windfarm Ltd revealed its plans to submit a planning application for 12 wind turbines with a maximum tip height of 131m generating up to 36MW of electricity in the townlands of Cloghboola, Garrynatornora, Tooreenalour, Shehy More and Gortnacarriaga. An underground cable will take power to the substation at Dunmanway.
Representatives were dealing with concerned locals on an individual basis until Dave Edmond from Coolmountain known locally as ‘Scottish Dave’ took charge of the meeting calling for a general discussion and drawing people together in the hall.
Reminding the organisers that it is a democracy in a republic and that it was a public space he said this was just the start of the development of wind farms all over the area. ‘You are just one company showing us what your company is going to do and the adjoining territory will be bought and sold by another company ad infinitum and frankly I’m rather worried about the future of this beautiful area,’ Mr Edmond said.
Mr Edmond asked to know the money behind the development, what the landowners are being paid and the grant structure. Describing wind energy as ‘a puny, intermittent and unpredictable power source that has to be replicated and shadowed by big conventional fossil fuel burning power stations,’ he added. ‘I think before the planning runs out they’ll be as obsolete and curious looking as the Easter Island statues are today for the curious to wonder over,’ he added.
An immense conservatism has gripped the industry he believes ‘as a result of the guys behind it just wanting a quick buck,’ he told The Southern Star. ‘They’ve figured out how to get the grants and to “shemoz” the authorities and they’re just sticking them up,’ he said.
The developers say they picked the site as it was not designated as a Natura 2000 site neither an SAC nor an SPA and under the County Development Plan the area has not been ruled out for wind turbines.
The majority of the site is owned by Coillte with the remainder understood to be also owned by non-resident landowners.
Neighbours within 1km received notification of the meeting. Members of the public were mainly from the Dunmanway side as many in the Lee Valley were unaware of the proposed development. The developers have ruled out another public information meeting before planning.
Despite being adjacent to and visible from the Lost Valley prime hiking country in the Upper Lee Valley and immediately next to the old Bantry line a popular touring route area the developers describe the site as being ‘not in a prominent position in terms of potential for visual impact’.
According to the developers’ own maps 10-12 turbines will be visible from high ground throughout the upper Lee Valley as far as Macroom and Ballyvourney.
This is the third wind farm mooted on the ridges north and south of Lough Allua between Inchigeela and Ballingeary in the past twelve months with many more apparently in the pipeline.
Members of the public questioned if there was any environmental or legal restrictions on the number of wind farms there can be in one area and it was mooted that a meeting was needed where all these windmills can be discussed.
Planning will be submitted in the next two to six weeks after which there will be a five week period for submissions by the public. The public will be notified by newspaper and on site notices. An EIS will form part of the planning application.
Locals plan to hold a meeting locally in either Inchigeela or Ballingeary to discuss the development.
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