A father fears a proposed wind farm in Meath will adversely impact on the health and development of his autistic son, it has been claimed in the Commercial Court.
John Callaghan, an engineer from Headfort Road, Kells, Co Meath, has “grave concerns” about the impact of the wind farm on his seven-year-old son, himself, his family and the local area, including wildlife, heritage and the cultural landscape, particularly archaeological.
He says he has studied renewable energy at postgraduate level and read medical research concerning “Wind Turbine syndrome”. Symptoms include sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, dizziness and visual blurring although some experts dispute there is any such syndrome.
His son is autistic and very sensitive to noise, he said.
Research also indicated people with autism are afraid of visual dominance of wind turbines on the skyline, he said.
He alleges the normal planning process in relation to the wind farm has been “by-passed” and matters appeared to have been “secretly” discussed with An Bord Pleanala before it decided a planning application could be made directly to the board.
The proposed €240m development is for 46 wind turbines, each with a height of up to 169 metres and a power output of 2.5 to 3.5MW, on three clusters of lands at Farragara, Castletownmoor and Ísealchríocha, near Kells.
The developer claims, if permission is secured, the wind farm will generate substantial electricity for up to 30 years, jobs and some €3.5m for local projects over the lifetime of the development.
The board is expected to give a decision next April on the planning application by North Meath Wind Farm Ltd, whose majority shareholder is Element Power Ireland.
Mr Callaghan claims the alleged bypassing of the normal planning process means the developer has plenty of opportunity to meet any concerns of the board while he, a person of limited resources, has just one opportunity to deal with matters within a specified time scale.
The entire procedure is “fundamentally unfair and prejudicial to me” and he was concerned the “appropriate level of detachment” had not been applied by the board.
Mr Justice Brian McGovern granted an application on behalf of the developer to fast-track Mr Callaghan’s challenge against the board to the Commercial Court.
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