Wind turbines nearly twice the height of the Statue of Liberty are being proposed by Coillte for a picturesque area near Dromahair.
Residents near the planned Croagh windfarm site are now determined to fight against the proposal, citing noise pollution, shadow flickering, devaluation of property and possible health implications.
The group believe well over 50 houses will be impacted by the proposal to erect ten wind turbines in the area high on Corry Mountain in the Kilavoggy, Dromahair area.
They told The Sligo Champion they are concerned that Coillte are pushing ahead with the Croagh windfarm scheme which would see 10 turbines measuring 168 meters in height being erected.
The group believe Coillte are attempting to push the scheme through using 2006 guidelines which are less restrictive than more up to date ones that are being finalised and they apparently plan to submit their planning applications to Leitrim and Sligo County Councils next month.
Taking issue with Coillte’s consultation process the group has claimed that some houses in close proximity to the site were not informed of the planned windfarm.
“Coillte drew a line in the road and one side of the road where I live I wasn’t told of plans and up the road my son and his family were,” explained John Maxwell whose bog is nearby the site.
Adrienne Diamond who runs activities business, Adventure Gently with her husband Graham Robertson said their lives and the lives of their neighbours had completely changed since Coillte informed them of their plans over a year ago.
“We haven’t stopped worrying about this, there’s been so much stress. A man from Coillte came up and gradually told us. There was a follow-up meeting where they broke out a map and they showed us these ten turbines,” said Adrienne.
Reaction from residents was one of shock when they realised the proposed height of the turbines. Current turbines in the area stand at 104 meters, while the proposed turbines would stand at 168 metres.
“We’ve got six of them behind our houses so we hear these in a certain wind (south wind) and they are pretty noisy,” explained Adrienne.
At the moment according to Adrienne there are only four turbines in Ireland at the height of the ones planned for their area.
“We’ve asked can we go see these turbines and talk to the people and we will do it by ourselves but Coillte hasn’t been facilitating that. We’ve heard newspaper reports about those ones that people aren’t sleeping, it’s very worrying”.
Noise is the major worry for residents. Adrienne and husand Graham relocated to the area from Scotland ten years ago because of the tranquil setting and, while over and back before settling the current turbines were erected.
“I bought this place because of the view and the quietness that’s what we wanted and we’ve got businesses that revolve around that,” she said.
Adrienne and Graham run guided canoeing experiences on the River Bonnet and Lough Gill, along with providing ‘Social farming’ experiences. Their fear is that the new considerably larger turbines will put tourists off visiting the area.
“We agree with renewable energy but it’s the wind turbines that’s the problem and they’re going to roll out a lot more of these throughout the country. Coillte said there are three other sites and that was a year ago.”
Coillte has told the group that it intends to apply for planning next month.
“We can lodge objections but we just feel so little against these big businesses and they’ve joined the ESB. The more we engage with them the more we feel helpless,” said Adrienne.
A two kilometre radius of the proposed site was drawn by Coillte with any household inside this line being made aware of plans, however, Adrienne believes that radius is not adequate as the noise from the proposed turbines will travel wider.
John Maxwell said that when taking in turf this summer he had to wear ear muffs such was the sound emanating from wind turbines already in the wider area.
“It’s that constant noise, it’s only in a certain wind,” said Adrienne, however, her husband Graham added that with the introduction of more turbines the noise will be coming from each direction bar north.
“We bought the house to live until we die in it, we don’t want to move because of health implications. They’re passing information over to us and totally bamboozling us,” said Adrienne.
Updated guidelines in line with best practices according to the World Health Organisation is what the group are pushing for if they cannot prevent planning.
Adrienne explained that in the 2006 guielines the turbines were smaller.
“If the Government are going to roll out renewable energy in the form of wind energy they need to get their act together in terms of regulations, they’re not regulations either, they’re guidelines,” she explained.
Adrienne added, “We feel Coillte is now rushing this project in under the 2006 guidelines because we feel the noise projections and tests done were louder than expected and they’re trying to get them [turbines] in under the more lax guidelines.
“These are monsters and it’s inappropriate planning so close to people’s houses.”
Graham said wind energy is a ‘global issue’ and health affects have been talked about worldwide.
“We’re not against green energy but how green is the energy, the carbon these produce and manufacture and transportation and putting them up is greater than anything they’re going to save,” said Graham.
Mother of four, Andrea Rankin reiterated this point, “They’ll never make back their own carbon footprint.”
Touching on the possible impact on their business, Adrienne and Graham said they fear tourists will be put off from visiting the area.
“We’re involved in tourism. When we’re out on the water people say ‘it’s so unspoilt’ and out on Lough Gill they [tourists] will be able to see these from the Lake Isle of Innishfree.”
Adrienne added, everybody in Leitrim and Sligo are working hard to bring tourists here and at the other end Coillte are potentially destroying the landscape.”
Andrea said they were living happily in the area until last year and claimed they feel bullied by Coillte.
John Maxwell said Coillte indicated that they will only be in charge of the turbines until they are built and then they will be selling them off, ending their responsibility of them.
“It’s money, Coillte don’t care about the environment if they did they wouldn’t be polluting or planting all the Sitka Spruce everywhere,” said Andrea.
Adrienne noted that if the turbines are constructed under the 2006 guidelines the flicker from the turbines would be allowed for a certain period of time per day, but the group had been assured at the beginning of consultations that there would be no flicker.
For Andrea, the fear of the unknown health implications and the sheer scale of the planned wind turbines is what alarms her.
“It’s the noise, you just don’t know how it’s going to affect children. It’s a constant drone or a hum.
“They’re so big. It’s maddening. We moved up to Dromahair and built our house, I have the best view in the world when I look out the window and Coillte came knocking. You don’t know how it’s going to affect anyone…It’s greed, it’s Coillte being greedy again and dumping on Leitrim again.”
Seamus Hazlett, who has seven turbines behind his house currently said his late mother who passed away a matter of weeks ago was affected by the flicker and said the noise leaves him ‘numb’.
“I told all that to the Coillte boss and he just shook it off.”
You can support the campaign by visiting Leitrim Wind Industry Awareness or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.