Many people will celebrate the new year tonight, but others in rural communities are living in a state of anxiety about what 2019 will bring.
They are, increasingly, up in arms about windfarms being forced on them.
Everyone is in favour of renewable energy and the Government is coming under growing EU and international pressure to up Ireland’s pretty dismal performance in the battle against global warming.
However, spare a thought for those who have to live with wind turbines.
Experts tell us Ireland has the best ocean wind and wave power in Europe, so why not exploit this untapped resource and build wind farms at sea rather that imposing them on land close to where people live?
By opting for offshore wind farms, the people element would be removed. It would, of course, be a more expensive solution, but better wind speeds at sea would be a key advantage.
Such windfarms could also be located close to major urban centres, ruling out the need for overland pylons and transmission lines, while the impact of size and noise would be lessened by distance.
At present, wind farms are being imposed on communities in upland areas and a way has to be found of finding agreement with such communities.
Investors have everything to gain, but there’s nothing in it for the communities who loudly protest that they have everything to lose.
Fred O’Sullivan, chairman of the Sliabh Luachra Wind Awareness Group, tells us there is an “impending catastrophe” looming over the storied region best known for the richness of its heritage, traditional music and poetry.
Bord Pleanála has granted permission for 12 giant turbines in the region, which would be among the tallest man-made structures in Ireland, dominating the landscape.
The World Health Organization clearly states that living close to turbines is health hazardous, says Mr O’Sullivan.
“There are children living with autism, epilepsy and one with a heart condition in our community, all who will be forced to leave their homes if this goes ahead.”
“Our community is already suffering from the stress of what is coming,” he says.
The Gneeveguilla, Tureencahill, and Ballydesmond areas along the Cork/Kerry border are affected.
The area has been designated a refuge for the hen harrier, while the River Blackwater, which flows through it, is home to the pearl mussel, which could be wiped out by a flow of silt from construction sites.
The awareness group is contesting the bord’s decision by seeking a judicial review in the High Court. A campaign has been launched to raise €120,000 to meet legal costs.
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