A public meeting is to be held in a rural West Cork community tomorrow night as locals discuss growing fears about the planned construction of a cluster of giant wind turbines near their homes.
Planning permission has been sought for the construction of six wind turbines, 131m in height, in Barnadivane, between Coppeen and Terelton.
However, locals believe that even more wind turbines are in the pipeline for the area, and have formed a support group to fight the planned development.
Local resident and spokesman for the Barna Wind Action Group, Michael O’Donovan, from Moneygoff East, said residents have wide-ranging concerns about the the project, on which a decision is expected to be made by the planning authorities early next month.
“The company is proposing to build six wind turbines, 131m (426’) in height – the County Hall is 67m,” he said, adding the six are expected to replace 14 smaller turbines for which permission had previously been granted.
The development would directly affect communities in Coppeen, Kilmurry, Terelton and Newcestown, he said, adding any further expansion would affect communities in the areas of Beál na mBlath, Kilmichael, Crookstown, Lissarda and Cloughduv.
Mr O’Donovan said the proposed electricity sub-station to service the machines would “cover an area the size of a football pitch and be as tall as a two-story building”.
Furthermore, the facility would be “located at the top of Barna”, a hilltop which locals say would have a dramatic visual impact on the landscape.
The sub-station would also have capacity for many more wind turbines, he warned.
He said planning permission has been granted and locals will lodge an appeal against it.
“Our concerns include the visual impact on the area. The windmills are only about 600-700 metres from some of our houses. We feel that’s too close,” he said.
Mr O’Donovan noted, in some parts of the EU, wind turbine setback distances were up to two kilometres from local residences.
“We’re also concerned about the noise from these machines and feel they will completely dominate our rural community,” he declared.
The area boasts a number of very popular designated walking routes.
“We feel these turbines will destroy the beauty of the area and impact on our designated local walks,” he said.
Locals, furthermore, fear the proximity of the large machines would also impact significantly on housing values in the area.
Safety was another worry, said Mr O’Donovan, pointing out earlier this month a turbine had collapsed in high winds in Co Tyrone while, last summer in West Cork a turbine caught fire and set local gorse ablaze.
Many believe, he said, large-scale developments of this kind had the potential to severely impact the mental health of local residents.
The company, Energo Energy Ltd, said it had no comment to make.
The public meeting will be held in Terelton Community Hall tomorrow at 8.30pm.
“There is a lot of support in the community for the campaign,” said Mr O’Donovan.
For further information follow Barna Wind Action Group on its Facebook page Barna Wind Action Group and on Twitter, windwatch – @barnawindaction
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