We have one common goal, says Margaret Campion, and that is to stop any plans for a wind-farm in East Kerry.
Up to 150 people attended a meeting in Barraduff Community Field on Tuesday to begin the first step in what is expected to be a lengthy campaign to halt what is thought to be a proposed wind-farm in the region.
Though no planning permission has yet been sought for the proposed development, the community has become aware of initial plans for at least 14 turbines.
They have vowed to ensure that no such development goes ahead and chief among their concerns is the proximity of what is claimed to be 180m-high turbines to homes.
“The meeting was held to get the information out there. We wanted to share what information we have to date and to keep an eye on what is going on,” explained Margaret, who is a member of the newly formed campaign group, East Kerry Wind Aware.
“It will be a while before planning is sought, but we want a group set up for further down the line,” she added. Margaret is a resident in Knockyshehane, one of the town-lands cited as a location for the windfarm.
The community became aware of the proposed plans after the Galway-based consultancy firm MKO sent letters to landowners seeking to meet with them to discuss proposals.
The letter, seen by The Kerryman, does not outline what the project is, but it is understood locally to be a wind-farm. Solar farms are also mooted for the region, it’s believed.
The identified sites intercept a number of townlands in Headford, Glenflesk, Barraduff and Killarney. It is also believed that a number of contracts with landowners have been signed.
The community is not aware of the developer behind the project, but they intend to be prepared for a battle ahead.
“We will fight . This is not the area for a windfarm, this land is not under consideration under the County Development Plan. We will not take it lying down. We will take it to the very end,” said Margaret.
Among the reasons cited by the campaign is the impact turbines may have on residential homes, including shadow flicker and noise, as well the impact such a development would have on wildlife on the region.
Sliabh Luachra Wind Awareness group is supporting the newly formed East Kerry group. They have been successful in fighting any development of a windfarm in their local community. The group had sought a judicial review of An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning to a farm and won their appeal, which effectively shot down a planned farm.
An Bord Pleanála had granted permission to Silverbirch Renewables for the wind farm on lands between Gneeveguilla in Kerry and Ballydesmond in Cork.
Their success was based on the impact the development would have on the hen harrier.
East Kerry Wind Aware may also have to prepare for a legal battle if planning is granted for the proposal.
In the interim, however, it is early days, but all eyes will be on the next step for the developers of the project.
The matter was discussed at Monday’s Ordinary Meeting of Kerry County Council at Kerry Sports Academy.
Cllr Niall ‘Botty’ O’Callaghan queried if the new County Development Plan, currently being drafted to set out strategic and sustainable planning objectives for the period 2022 to 2028, could be utilised to protect communities opposed to windfarm development in their localities. Cllr Aoife Thornton (Fine Gael) meanwhile called for the closing date for submissions to the plan – August 21 – to be aggressively promoted.
Cllr Marie Moloney (Labour) said “It’s time we took a stand and said ‘No more windfarms in Kerry’”, and she added that the county had contributed enough to the nation’s wind-energy objectives. She said that many communities opposed to developments in their localities do not have the resources to oppose said developments.
Council Chief Executive Moira Murrell explained that Kerry County Council had made a comprehensive submission on national guidelines into draft wind-energy development guidelines outlining that Kerry had indeed contributed hugely already to wind-energy output.
Cllr Brendan Cronin queried how height restrictions can be so stringently enforced in some areas of planning, while wind turbines of up to 190 metres are given the go-ahead.
Cllr Niall Kelleher (Fianna Fáil) expressed concern that some companies “are advertising that they specialise in getting difficult planning permissions over the line”.
“For our county development plan, the specific area being mentioned is not even open to consideration,” he added, saying this was also a concern to him.
Cllr Maura Healy-Rae asked how much notice An Bord Pleanála takes of what’s outlined in County Development Plans, while Cllr Michael Gleeson said such a development in the Barraduff area would ‘blatantly, flagrantly, and absolutely contradict’ the two primary functions of the Council and development plans: to enhance community and protect the environment.
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