The wind has shifted in Kerry – against wind energy. And such a change in attitude in the Kingdom has rarely been seen.
From a stance, some years ago, of fighting to be zoned as suitable for wind energy, communities in Kerry are now campaigning to be de-zoned, a county council meeting was told.
New statistics show Kerry is already producing almost 11% of the total wind energy output nationally, and it is set to rise to 25%.
But parishes and communities are being “totally split” as enormous wind turbines proliferated in recent years in lowland areas in north and east Kerry, eating up farmland and scenic areas.
“Wind turbines only operate 30% of the time,” said Ballyheigue councillor John Lucid, who further claimed that “favouritism” was being shown to wind turbine developers over communities.
Latest figures from October 5 show 329 MW of the national wind production of 3,049 MW were produced in Kerry.
New wind farms, just constructed and waiting to be connected to the grid, will produce a further 235 MW.
Councillor Jimmy Moloney said updated wind farm guidelines are still awaited by the local authority and the “wait is unacceptable”.
Ballylongford, he said, was experiencing a proliferation of wind turbines.
The county council is also coming under fire in Kerry. A wind policy it drew up some years ago, approved by the then county council, protected most of south Kerry but indicated north and east Kerry had no scenic value so the wind farms are concentrated in those areas.
The famous seaside resort of Ballybunion was designated as suitable for wind turbines.
“To have Ballybunion referred to as having no scenic value is an insult to north Kerry,” said local councillor Mike Kennelly.
“It’s dividing communities, it’s dividing families,” he said.
Bridges and roads were destroyed in the construction and while some had been repaired, others had not, said Robert Beasley, another Ballybunion-based councillor.
“I support green energy, but it hasn’t worked out,” he said.
Donal Grady said parts of east Kerry were decimated and divided and he said the impact on wildlife was not being taken into account.
However, Michael Gleeson from Killarney said he has rarely seen such a shift in attitude towards any single thing.
A new landscape strategy is being drawn up for Kerry While new national guidelines are awaited, new draft local plans are also months away.
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