Major concerns have been raised this week about natural habitats and the environment, as wind farm developers continue to seek planning permission for wind farms from local authorities around the country.
Residents in an area of south Co. Kerry that is home to the freshwater pearl mussel have said the species “will be destroyed” if a wind farm planned for their area goes ahead.
Furthermore, disquiet over flooding in the midlands has also emerged as residents in Lanesboro await a decision from Longford County Council in respect of a wind farm development at Derryadd by Bord na Mona.
In Co. Donegal residents in the south east of the county have highlighted their worries over the hen harrier population after an application was made to the local authority for the development of Meenbog Wind Farm, comprising 19 turbines.
And, in Co. Kildare, a local area representative has said that, as far as he is concerned, wind farms are “not the solution” to the country’s carbon problem and the environment is becoming more and more damaged because Ireland “is so far behind” on its emissions.
Fred O’Sullivan is chairman of the Sliabh Luachra Wind Awareness Group. It was established after Kerry Co. Council granted planning permission for a wind farm comprising 14 turbines – 150m in length – in a rural area along the Cork/Kerry border that is home to the freshwater pearl mussel.
O’Sullivan says the pearl mussel is unique to the area and can be found in the River Blackwater.
He also pointed to the dangers posed by the wind farm to the mussel.
“One flood of silt into the river and the freshwater pearl mussel is destroyed; that’s it, it will be gone forever.”
O’Sullivan went on to say that he “cannot understand” how policymakers in Ireland think that wind energy offers a solution to protecting the environment, or indeed reducing the country’s carbon emissions.
“We have bog land in our area that we know is carbon absorbent and they are being ripped up to facilitate these wind farms,” he said.
“Even the landowners have gotten caught out with these wind farms because they are locked into a contract that they can’t get out of for 30 years; neither can they build on the land for 30 years.
“There are 52 communities in Ireland fighting against wind – that is very significant,” he said.
Further up the country in Lanesboro in south Co. Longford residents are concerned on a number of fronts, not least about their environment, after Bord na Mona applied to the local authority there for the development of a wind farm that comprises 24 turbines.
Chairman of the No to Derryadd Wind Farm Group Niall Dennigan said residents in the area are “infuriated” by the move.
He also pointed to the numerous implications for the locality including health and environmental. Dennigan says the area in which the wind farm is proposed is also prone to flooding.
“There are flooding issues already taking place downstream in Lanesboro and putting in that number of turbines will just add to this problem.”
He continued: “A lot of the health issues we have are the same as every other person in the country facing a wind farm development in their area; we are also concerned about noise, shadow-flicker and epilepsy.”
Dennigan went on to claim that there are some studies which indicate that some people have suffered health problems as “a direct result” of wind turbines.
Local area representative in the Maynooth Municipal District, councillor Padraig McEvoy told AgriLand that there was a “perception” out there that wind farms were the solution to the carbon problem – yet, as far he is concerned “the environment is getting more and more damaged because Ireland is way behind in its carbon emissions”.
He was speaking in the aftermath of a new planning application made by North Kildare Windfarm Limited at the end of 2018 for the development of Maighne Wind Farm comprising 12 turbines.
Speaking to AgriLand, Finn Valley Wind Action chairperson Marie Scanlon said that at the time the developer, Micheal Murnane of Planree Limited, applied for planning permission to develop Meenbog Wind Farm, comprising 19 turbines, the area earmarked in south-east Donegal for the project was classed as being “environmentally sensitive” in the county development plan.
Scanlon also pointed to the fact that the wind farm is earmarked for an area of south Donegal that supports up to 7% of the national breeding population of hen harrier in the Republic of Ireland.
She says people in the area are completely opposed to the development.
“They also remain hopeful that the county development plan – which is currently under review – will continue to support the area in question,” she said. The plan was challenged last year by the wind farm developer.
“We will continue to strongly oppose any further plans and will continue to protect our area; we want our area not to be zoned and not open to consideration for these types of developments,” she said.
Wind Aware Ireland
Wind Aware Ireland, meanwhile, is opposed to wind energy in this country.
Its spokesperson Paula Byrne claimed that there is “mounting evidence” to suggest that wind energy “does not reduce” the use of fossil fuels or the levels of emissions.
She referenced Elsevier – a Dutch information and analytics company and one of the world’s major providers of scientific, technical, and medical information – when speaking about wind energy effects in Ireland.
There are two other fundamental problems with wind energy, she added, including the fact that the wind doesn’t always blow and there is no storage available at grid level.
“We know that with regards to wind farms, when the wind is not blowing, electricity is not being generated and therefore people will return to more conventional sources,” Byrne said.
She continued: “We also know that hydro and solar both reduce the use of fossil fuels, while wind energy increases it. Wind energy is a fake solution to reducing Ireland’s carbon emissions.”
Bord na Mona
In a statement to AgriLand Bord na Mona said it was transitioning away from traditional operations to become “a leading provider” of renewable energy in Ireland.
The company insisted that it complies with relevant legislation and regulations at all times.
“We work closely with local communities to ensure that they are aware of Bord na Mona’s plans and the potential benefits from the proposed development.”
A spokesperson continued: “With regards to compliance the company submits extremely detailed plans regarding the development to relevant planning authorities.”
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