An Bord Pleanála has given the go-ahead for the development of 12 wind turbines – to a max height of 150m – in townlands on the southern fringe of Ballylongford village in North Kerry.
The location in the townlands of Ballyline West, Coolkeragh, Dromalivaun and Tullamore is slap bang in the middle of an area already far too developed with renewables for many local opposed to the proliferation of the massive tech around the village. Tullahinnel wind farm is 2.4km to the northwest of the site, with the Lenamore wind farm 2.5km to the northeast.
And The Ballylongford Wind Farm, which has planning permission, is adjacent to Tullahinnel, on a site roughly 2km to the northwest of it.
The planning permission for this latest farm was obtained by applicant Shronowen Wind Farm Ltd under strategic infrastructure legislation – meaning it did not have to be submitted to Kerry County Council first.
Planning permission was granted after An Bord considered eight submissions from ‘observers’, generally, local people, who raised a number of issues with the plan, including:
- The fact the location was chosen by the time public consultation brochures were received, effectively excluding residents from the overall process.
- What they termed a lack of public consultation with no public meetings and no accessible displays.
- Residents living as close as 450m to a proposed turbine experienced no ‘active engagement’ with any representative of the applicant.
- An adverse impact on the landscape of the area, which the turbines will ‘alter’
- That the proposed wind farm would ‘close the ring’ of turbines to completely encircle the village of Ballylongford
- Noise impacts
- One local house will end up wedged between a permitted solar farm and the proposed windfarm
- Safety and congestion concerns over traffic on the roads during the 18-month construction of the turbines
- Risk of peat slide
- Observers disagreed with the applicant that there would be a ‘very minor cumulative risk’ of flooding downstream as a result of the structures.
- Destruction of habitat and wildlife
The Kerry County Council Chief Executive’s report on the proposal had considered the site context, planning history of the site and location as well as the European, national and local climate change and planning policies.
The KCC report stated that the wind farm ‘will have a significant negative impact on the landscape, materially affect protected views and prospects and severely impact the Wild Atlantic Way which makes a significant economic contribution to the North Kerry Area.’
It also found that the windfarm would be at variance with the Wind Energy Development Guidelines of 2006.
The Chief Executive also stated that the permitted solar farm and the permitted Ballylongford Wind Farm should have been factored into the assessment of cumulative noise impacts.
The Bord inspector also summarised the KCC report as stating: “The exposure of 25 no. properties to shadow flicker is not acceptable and would severely impact on the residential amenity of the properties concerned.”
“The planning authority has significant reservations regarding the conclusion reached in the EIAR and strongly recommends that permission be refused for the proposed development,” the inspector’s report states.
An Bord Pleanála inspector Breda Gannon recommended permission be granted noting the development is not directly connected with or necessary for the management of a European site. An Bord accepted the veracity of the submitted Environmental Impact Assessment and found that the main direct and indirect effects of the windfarm would be mitigated in a number of ways.
That noise vibration and shadow flicker would be avoided by implementing measures set out in the EIA report and the Construction and Environment Management Plan; that habitat loss associated with construction would pertain to areas of ‘generally low ecological value with no rare or protected species’.
It found the landscape impact would be balanced by the existing nature of the boggy terrain which, it said. has been ‘significantly impacted by existing activities (agriculture, forestry and peat extractino) and which is robust’.
Surface water would be managed in such a way to completement the existing bog drainage system and other measures would be adopted to mitigate the risk of peat erosion.
Among the 30 conditions of the permission is that two turbines and a temporary compound be omitted from the development to protect an identified hen harrier roosting site.
Meanwhile, in terms of connecting to the grid when operational, the preferred route to the network is via the main Tarbert-Tralee powerline but an alternative option is cited: connecting via the already-granted Tullamore Solar project to the south of the site.
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