The scenic north Kerry coast has been “destroyed” by wind turbines, a council meeting has been told.
Eight years ago councillors designated iconic places such as Ballybunion as being of “ no scenic importance” and therefore suitable for wind energy development. Ballybunion is also included on the Wild Atlantic Way which was established in 2014.
The meeting heard of flicker noise and shadowing of houses and a landscape blocked by turbines and division in communities.
But the meeting in Tralee was also told that wind turbines are an important income for farm families in remote areas in Kilgarvan in the south of the county.
Kerry has 6.8% of the landmass of the State but it has 350 wind turbines and produces 19% of the national wind output. There is planning for a further 41 turbines.
A new county development plan is to get underway in April on foot of a submission by the council to the long-awaited draft national wind energy guidelines. Efforts will be made to unravel the damage to communities and the landscape caused by the 2012 designation.
The new guidelines have to be taken into account by An Bord Pleanala which overturned Kerry planners’ refusals, the meeting heard.
Fine Gael councillor Michael Foley spoke passionately about Ballylongford and Asdee where communities are “surrounded” by giant turbines. Some 21 turbines have already been erected in Ballylonford.
“We are actually surrounded and the community is receiving no benefit,” Cllr Foley said.
Referring to the landscape assessment voted in by councillors in the chamber in 2012, some of whom were still in the chamber Cllr Foley said: “They destroyed North Kerry. People can’t sleep at night.”
Nobody will buy houses affected by turbines. The wind turbine developers are moving from high ground into flat areas in other populated parts of the county too,” the meeting heard.
Cllr Aoife Thornton (FG) wondered about the future when the turbines come to the end of their life. She said: “Roads are savagely torn apart.”
Cllr Jimmy Moloney (FF) queried how the council is now going “to marry” the presence of wind turbines with the proposal to now assess the coastline of north Kerry as “sensitive”.
However, Cllr Johnny Healy Rae warned against a blanket ban, saying that in Kilgarvan 38 wind turbines are in a valley with no house and are an important income for farm families.
Cllr Jackie Healy-Rae said setting back the turbines a distance seven times their height from a dwelling would be more realistic than 10 times the height.
The council agreed a set-back proposal of between seven and 10 times the turbines’ total height.
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