An Bord Pleanála has granted Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID) status to a massive wind farm proposal straddling the east Cork/west Waterford border.
German-based Innogy SE Ltd, through its subsidiary Innogy Renewables Ireland Ltd. and in partnership with Dublin-based Highfield Energy Ltd., plans to construct 25 turbines, 150 metres high on a 3,500 acre site in an area known as Lyrenacarriga.
The development is estimated to cost €130m.
The site, half way between Youghal and Dungarvan, is part-Coillte and part-privately owned, dissects a designated scenic route, close St. Declan’s Way walking route.
The ruling, which followed on an application by Innogy in 2018, means the company can bypass the respective local authorities and seek planning directly from An Bord Pleanála.
Objectors say the development will impact negatively on up to 300 homes – comprising about 1,000 residents – with serious health implications through flicker effect, shadow and noise.
Fears have also been expressed that the development will infiltrate streams feeding into Youghal’s water supply, a concern that 20 years ago saw planning refused for a landfill facility in the area.
Retired mechanical engineer and member of the national examination board in occupational safety and health (NRBOSH) Tom Morley, believes the project would involve “excavating hundreds of thousands of tons of rock and soil”.
He says excavations could equate to 40 tons of high tensile reinforcement steel per turbine base, plus over 25,000 tons of concrete, along with over 18,000 tons of soil also being extracted for substations and roads.
“The stockpiled residue would infiltrate underground and over-ground streams,” he argues.
The company has previously stated that the local community could benefit by between €360,000 and €444,000 through a community fund, along with a community-shared ownership initiative.
However chairman of the anti-development Blackwater Wind Aware community group Paddy Massey says the proposed development has left the local community “upset and incensed”.
Mr Massey says the community is “99.99%” united in its determination to fight any planning application, and blames “irresponsible government policies and planning guidelines” for the situation.
Last July Waterford Council CEO Michael Walsh rejected a motion from councillors to amend the county development plan to exclude wind farms in the area.
He labelled the request too site specific and designed to frustrate a specific development proposal. He also warned it could expose the council to enormous legal and financial risk.
Mr Massey, meanwhile, says the county development plan commits to protecting special areas of conservation within the designated area and the scenic routes bordering it. “So the development plan and the wind energy strategy map contradict each other, he claims.
The chairman says the Bord’s announcement adds further stress to a small community already struggling with the ramifications of Covid-19.
He says a Go Fund Me page has been established to help fight the proposal with details are on the Blackwater Wind Aware Facebook page or on blackwaterwindaware.com.
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