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Residents oppose West Cork windfarm plan

Fears of potential fire and toxic smoke hazards at a battery storage facility have prompted a community petition against a windfarm planned for a scenic area near Gougane Barra.

Wingleaf Ltd is seeking permission for a seven-turbine windfarm, electricity substation, and battery storage containers at Curraglass, close to the Pass of Keimaneigh.

A petition has been instigated by the village development committee in Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh, 5.5km from the proposed windfarm.

Wingleaf is an affiliate company of Lissarda-based Enerco Energy and its directors are Michael and David Murnane. The company has applied for permission for the 30-year operational life of the windfarm, with seven turbines of a blade height of up to 178.5 metres. A 38kV electricity substation is planned, along with four battery storage containers and a mast of up to 112 metres.

The petition highlights fears about the height of the proposed windfarm and the battery storage containers which, it is claimed, “will inevitably bring the potential risk of fire and toxic smoke downwind”.

Development committee member Tim Twomey said of the application: “I have a real concern about safety. There’s nothing about how long a battery can burn before it burns through the storage casing, or what fumes are likely to be emitted.”

Tadhg Ó Duinnín, chairperson of the development committee, said the Gaeltacht village was encircled by windfarms “in a 360 degree radius around us”.

“We’re absolutely surrounded by them,” he said.

“This community has had to take more than its fair share of them and we haven’t had any say in it.”

Mr Ó Duinnín also questioned the level of funding allocated to the locality under windfarm community funds, describing it as a “pittance” relative to wind energy profits.

Patrick McMorrough of Enerco Energy said annual community funding of €60,000 was planned during the operation of the proposed development, to be administered “in accordance with the wishes of those closest to the development locally”.

Mr McMorrough said: “We would welcome the opportunity to meet with members of Coiste Forbartha Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh to discuss the Curraglass proposal with them. We have maintained communication with all residents within 2km of the proposed Curraglass development and we had intended to hold a public information evening at a local venue, however due to Covid-19 restrictions this has not been possible.”

He continued: “Developments of this nature must adhere to strict safety guidelines and therefore hazards are not envisaged. Remote monitoring will ensure that standard operational conditions are maintained.

“The proposed turbines will not be the tallest turbines in Ireland – there are taller turbines already permitted.”