Up to 60 people attended a recent meeting in Mountmellick Arts Centre to voice their objections to a proposed wind farm near the town.
Norwegian power company Statkraft Ireland Ltd plans to erect eight 185-meter high wind turbines, a sub-power station and a 110-metre high meteorological mast in the townlands of Dernacart and Forest Upper.
The initial planning application was deemed to be incomplete by Laois County Council.
The meeting in Mountmellick heard concerns about the height of the turbines, the noise they make and the flicker effect on nearby dwellings. Health and safety of the people in the surrounding areas was also high on the agenda.
A number of people said the company did not consult widely and that a booklet distributed to some residents in the area contained ‒ what was described at the meeting ‒ information “not conveying the true state of serious side effects from such monstrosities”.
One speaker said: “The first we ‒ the residents who will be left with these monster turbines on our doorsteps ‒ heard was in October, when some company reps called to some doors and put booklets in people’s letterboxes.”
It was also claimed at the meeting that members of the Mountmellick Flood Community were not aware of developments and were upset they did not know these turbines were being planned.
Emmett Conroy spoke about how homeowners in and around the Mountmellick area who were affected by the flooding in 2017 cannot get home insurance.
Another contributor said: “The thought of something of this scale flying under the radar and the potential impact it could have on an area with a high risk of flooding is a very serious matter. The concrete bases and infrastructure alone of these turbines will add to the problem that already exists.”
Local councillor Paddy Bracken also expressed his concerns about the flood risk from the turbines.
Others at the meeting expressed concern about their homes being devalued if such structures were erected.
The meeting was also informed about a family that had to leave their home and rent a house (while still paying a mortgage) in the Limerick area after turbines were erected near their home. They faced constant noise from the rotating blade and their children were getting uncontrollable nosebleeds and couldn’t concentrate in school. They were all experiencing headaches and sleep deprivation.
The meeting was told that the blades would rotate every three to six seconds, which also caused light flicker on their home.
Others expressed fears that the planning application was only the start of a project to turn their area into a “pin cushion with turbines dotted everywhere they can put them in”.
The meeting was highly critical of current and past governments, which had not imposed legislation for safe set-back distances, noise levels or flicker, but instead put guidelines in place “which are not fit for purpose and provide absolutely no safeguards for local communities”.
One contributor said: “People don’t matter. I think people deserve better than that. We are not human experiments for offshore-size wind turbines to be erected 740 metres from our homes. We are all entitled to our safe place … our homes.”
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