Residents of north Kerry feel that their area is being “sold to the green agenda”, following the reactivation of an appeal for a proposed windfarm development.
In 2018, the North Kerry Wind Turbine Awareness Group won a costly case before the Supreme Court against An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant permission for Stacks Mountain Windfarm Limited to construct a windfarm in the village.
Just recently, the company brought a new and improved plan before the board and the appeal has been reactivated for the development at the proposed site in Ballyhorgan, Finuge.
‘We knew they would never give up’
Anne Quilter, member of the North Kerry Wind Turbine Awareness Group, said this did not come as a surprise to locals.
“We expected it. We knew they [developers] would never give up – there’s too much money to be made in these things,” Quilter said.
“We knew it was brewing in the background – over the last while we have seen the experts popping around.
“We’re not surprised by it and we’re certainly not surprised that their file is about six times bigger now than the original.”
‘There’s better ways of fighting climate change’
There are 37 windfarms, either built or planned, within 20km of the proposed site for this new windfarm. Quilter explained that it isn’t renewable energy itself that the locals are against.
“I just think there’s better ways of fighting climate change than just putting up as many wind turbines as we can in an area like this and becoming an exporter of energy,” Quilter continued.
“We need to act properly in issues of environmental matters. Ireland’s record isn’t pretty and it’s not our record on wind turbines – it’s our record of protecting and conserving areas like the proposed site.
“The area that this particular windfarm is proposed for is a mix of bogland and agricultural land.
“By developing windfarms there, we’re not protecting the otters, the hen harriers, the whooper swans and the bats; we’re letting them down.”
According to Quilter, if the proposed windfarm is built, there will be “400 homes within two-and-a-half kilometres of a turbine, as well as three schools, four GAA clubs and three churches”.
“This is not a shrubland where nobody is about – this is a densely-populated area. It’s not a place for 160m-high wind turbines.”
According to Quilter, the site is “totally unsuited”.
“The turbines would be standing over people’s homes. We had an ecologist look at the planning and she said that ‘of all the places in Ireland, why any developer would look at a place like this’ is bizarre.
“When I look out my window, all I see out in the distance are wind turbines. If I look out over the direction of where these ones are proposed for, all I think is ‘disturbance to my garden, my neighbour’s garden, the trees and cows and…the quietness’.
“Up on a hill where there is nobody there; maybe. Placing them in a bog in the middle of a ring of houses and farms is mind-boggling.”
Quilter feels that locals have had enough.
“It just has to stop somewhere. Kerry has done its bit for the green agenda and locals aren’t benefitting from it.
“We’re still paying exorbitant electricity prices like the rest of the country is. Wind energy isn’t cheap – wind is free; wind energy not so much. Considering there’s turbines everywhere here, we are not benefitting at all.”
Quilter said that locals are hopeful that An Bord Pleanála will “take a look at the resubmitted documents and see that maybe all the boxes are ticked, but it’s still not a place to put another windfarm”.
“It’s one of those things – those who are writing up the proposal have years to write it and those objecting have five weeks to read thousands upon thousands of pages. We’re all average, ordinary joes sitting around a kitchen table trying to make sense of it.”
There is also opposition to a windfarm being developed in the east of the county, where a new campaign group called East Kerry Wind Aware has been set up. It is opposing a development based on what it says is the proximity of the proposed site to a residential area.
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