The Ardee Community Wind Action Group plan to host ‘objection clinics’ in the coming weeks to explain to people to exactly how to fight proposals to erect five new 126m high wind turbines at Drakestown, just south of the town.
That is one of the conclusions, reached from last week’s major community meeting held to discuss the proposed wind turbines at Drakestown and Belpatrick, just off Anaglog Cross.
The clinics will aim to help locals looking to object with the the practicalities of doing so, walking them them through the process.
Residents of the area are largely up in arms over the plans by company Gaelectric. Throughout Drakestown and Belpatrick, scores of homes have been adorned with signage declaring their stance – against the construction of the huge wind turbines (above).
Up to 150 people crammed into last week’s public meeting at the Hunterstown Inn – with standing room only – and they heard that each of the five wind turbines would cost about €3 million and would require up to 88 cement lorries to supply the concrete for each base.
The reaction has been largely negative locally – and the formation of this local group has demonstrated the quick mobilisation of their cause.
Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd was among the elected officials in attendance and told the assembled crowd, “You won’t get the benefit, but you’ll get all of the pain.” The Drogheda-based deputy pledged to support locals in their bid to stop the turbines being installed so close to homes in the area.
The meeting heard that one of the landowners involved in the project has pulled out – which drew praise from group members – but is hoped a much larger impact can be made with the planning application set to be made formal.
Peter Carolan, chair of the group, pointed out that the group isn’t against wind energy. “This is the right idea, but in the wrong location,” he said. “Drakestown is one of the highest points in the county, so these turbines will be clearly visible as far away as Dundalk. This wind farm would define our landscape and our community.
“This is a long road and a hard fight and as a community, I think we’ll be up for it.”
Local speakers from the floor aired their concerns over health and infrastruture, should the plans be granted permission to go ahead. One of the group’s biggest concerns is how close some houses will be to the turbines and the impact that noise and shadow flicker will have on those homes.
Collon’s Debra Dennis has first-hand experience of living just over 500m away from an industrial turbine. She said that since the giant Leaby Cross at Collon turbine started spinning on April 26th, the non-stop noise has been like a jumbo jet constantly circling overhead, which has affected her families’ sleep. The shadow flicker has a strobe effect on her house. Their TV and internet reception are often affected.
In addition, two days after the turbine started running, their normally docile pony reacted to the sound of the turbine and threw her 11-year-old daughter off, injuring her daughter.
Gaelelectric have yet to put forward a planning application as of yet, but made public their proposal to build the wind farm at the start of September. They did so at an open public meeting. Whilst against the building of more wind farms, Cllr Paddy Meade from Lobinstown praised the company for their transparency thus far.
“The key to fighting the plan is to object when the planning application was lodged. Nobody objected to the turbines in Collon, they went up,” he said. “The power of the people is strong. The only thing that will stop them is coming together as a community and working together to lodge objections.
“They had an open meeting some weeks ago and they didn’t have to do that. They could have just put in the application and you would have a month to object.”
It is understood that the Ardee Community Wind Action Group will also be looking to the public consultation in regards to the 2017-2022 Local Area Plan, hoping to make submissions and further their cause that way.
The company currently has six operational wind farms in the Republic of Ireland with a further three currently at the construction phase. The proposed development at Drakestown – as well as another proposed build at Crowinstown in Co. Westmeath – would take that number to 11.
More information on the Ardee Community Wind Action Group can be found on their website.
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