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Teacher claims turbines ‘a hammer blow’ to her dream home

After more than 40 years of full time teaching abroad, Ava Farrington relocated to a picturesque area criss-crossing the East Cork and West Waterford region. The intense quiet and open spaces were just the peaceful idyll she was in search of after a busy professional career.

“I fell in love with my house over 20 years ago, when I spotted its ‘For Sale’ sign and explored the overgrown garden surrounded by tall trees. I intuitively knew this was where I wanted to be.”

Having visited the area on holidays since early childhood, her family lived across Waterford and as far afield as Dublin. Ava was horrified to hear of the plans for Lyrenacarriga wind farm in 2018 and started to research the renewable energy industry in an effort to better understand the technology.

However, what she discovered of the developers’ plans, left her in no doubt things were not all rosy as what was being made out.

“While accepting that wind turbines have their place in a varied array of alternative energy sources, I genuinely believe that such a development will irreparably harm this area. The natural water-courses feeding Youghal and Tallow, run-off from construction to local well supplies; and a scenic pastoral landscape destroyed.”

The planning application from RWE (formerly Innogy) and Curns Energy Ltd /Highfield Energy is with An Bord Pleanála (ref PL04. 309121). The company wants to erect 17 x 150m-high industrial wind turbines, with a large sub-station and battery storage facility, on the Youghal water supply.

Ava says that the main source of collateral and the main asset families have, their homes, would be devalued by the proposed wind farm.

“Our homes are the main investment in most families’ lives. I have spent 50 years living a modest life on a modest income so that I would not be a burden to the state and would, hopefully, have a small legacy to grant my child. Isn’t that what most parents would like to do?

“For a large industrial body to think it perfectly within its rights to take away not only the beauty of the area we live in but slash the value of our baseline financial investment too, cannot go unchallenged. At 150m high, these 17 turbines in the Lyrenacarriga development are too big and too close to people’s homes.”

She is critical too, of the developer’s poor level of community engagement.

“Twice I have been left a letter, under a stone in my garden. And that was long before Covid reared its ugly head. I have not had any dialogue with any of the developers’ team here. In December 2018 I attended a meeting with them, and they have a completely different concept of the meaning of community engagement, to ours.

“Personal contact is something they avoid whenever possible. The impact of any of their plans is not addressed through meaningful discussion.”

“It is shocking, in my view, that this application has been lodged at a time when Covid has brought many families to their knees, having lost the opportunity to earn a living through lockdowns and Covid restrictions.

“It is a hammer blow at a time when many of us are struggling to deal with loneliness, home-schooling, loss of income and accompanying financial worries.”

When it comes to health, Ava has suffered from vertigo for years and is extremely noise sensitive, which is why she chose to live where she does. As someone who is adversely affected by any noise intrusion, hates background noise and does not even have a radio, Ava visited Woodhouse windfarm in Aglish and is convinced she would never be able to live with such a recurring, pulsating noise around her every day.

“I’m just an ordinary person who has lived an ordinary life. Now everything that I have ever worked for – my own home – will all be for nothing if this wind farm goes ahead,” Ava added.

“Landowners who live nowhere near the development have happily accepted money and thrown us all under the bus”, she claims. “Those nearer to home who have aided and abetted the plans, I actually have no words for.”

Blackwater Wind Aware is encouraging the East Cork and West Waterford communities to submit objections to An Bord Pleanála before March 5. Letters need to be posted by February 19 and include a €50 cheque, bank draft or postal order to An Bord Pleanála, posted to 64 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1.

Anyone interested in making a submission, would like help with delivery for their letter after February 19, or to avail of assistance from the GoFundMe community fundraiser to help with submission fee costs, should email: blackwaterwindaware@gmail.com

For more information, see www.blackwaterwindaware.com and find on Facebook/Instagram and Twitter @BWindAware.