A public meeting in relation to the proposed erection of a large number of wind turbines across a region, from near Knock to close to the Claremorris to Ballyhaunis road at Garryedmond, was held in the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris.
The meeting, which attracted a large crowd, was chaired by James Johnston from Lakehill, Knock, who outlined in much detail the background to the current situation and plans by the company associated with the venture to proceed with a much larger wind farm in the region.
Visible from Knock Shrine
James Johnston alleged plans were currently being prepared by the wind farm company to increase the size of the wind farms planned for the Cloontoa and Magheramore areas, where permission for eleven turbines had already been granted by the Council. Six of these would be clearly visible from Knock Shrine, it was stated.
He claimed that agents had already approached landowners in the townlands
of Lissiniskea, Lakehill, Loughanamon, Carrowbeg, Derry, Cloongawnagh, Caraun and Garryedmond for more turbine sites and for access to these new sites. Some of the landowners approached do not reside in the area.
The meeting heard that there was an effort afoot to relocate the turbines from hills and mountains to flatter land, as less cost would be involved in the construction process.
Guidelines vary in various parts of the world in relation to ‘set-back’ from houses. The recommended set-back in Yorkshire, UK, and Oregon, US, is two miles. In France it is one mile from occupied houses. It is as near as 400 yards (350 metres) in other places.
The Claremorris meeting was dominated by concerns over a potential 65 turbines in the area. These turbines would be an average of 135 metres high.
“We found out by accident that a good many people had been approached to sign up,” said James Johnson.
Michael and Dorothy Keane from Roscommon, who were guest speakers on the night, said they had no option but to leave their home after wind turbines were erected in close proximity. They moved to Roscommon from Wicklow and had been enjoying the peace and quiet of the area. However, the couple said they are now suffering ‘really horrendous’ health effects from nearby wind turbines, and that they are ‘driven demented by the constant noise’.
Matters relating to visual impact, shadow flick and noise 24 hours a day led them to make the decision to move out of their home on September 1. They claimed that other places like Donegal were being ‘ravaged’ and that it is time to stop ‘this madness’.
Cllr Gerry Murray expressed worries about the rapid expansion in wind farms, which he said was being fuelled by tax breaks similar to those that eventually led to the property collapse and the recession in the economy. “The draft guidelines need to be amended. There are applications in for close on 450 turbines in north Mayo. These developments are destroying the natural landscape of the country. It is genuine tourism and not technology that attracts people to our country,” he said, adding that market forces and not the common good were now being allowed to drive the agenda.
Richard Finn, independent councillor, said he felt the turbine company’s actions were ‘cynical’ and he said people should be informed about what was going on.
Local resident Brian Morley from Cloonfaughna said he felt the regulations were lax. He felt it was a good thing that this public meeting had started the debate on a wider scale.
Fine Gael councillor John Cribbin said he believed there was serious concern about the turbines and the rapid expansion proposed.
Michael Macken from Coolroe, Crossboyne, wondered how Bord Pleanála could uphold objections to single-house developments in areas because of ‘visual impact’ while at the same time granting permission for the erection of huge turbines with vastly more visual impact.
In the Knock area, signs have been erected stating that wind farms ‘cause bad neighbours’ and devalue property.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding