00:00 Saturday 27 October 2007  Written by Frank O'Donovan

CNAG to discuss wind turbine plans with Organic Power Ltd

REPRESENTATIVES of the Castletown and Newcestown Action Group (CNAG) are expected to meet with representatives of Organic Power Ltd this week to discuss its proposals to build 16 wind turbines and a bio-energy plant in the area.

This follows a protest by CNAG, which was attended by around 150 people carrying placards, outside County Hall in Cork prior to Monday's meeting of Cork County Council. Members of the newly-formed group remained adamant that they do not want wind turbines located anywhere near their homes.

But, the issue of the wind turbines was not discussed at the council meeting. Such protests are normally the subject of discussion in the chamber, but two Fine Gael councillors, John O'Shea and Noel Harrington, said afterwards that they did not raise the issue, because they had not been approached by CNAG members.

Organic Power Ltd held three information meetings in the Castle Ahan, Enniskeane, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week to inform locals of their plans.

ABANDONED

Two of the meetings went off smoothly, but the Tuesday night meeting had to be abandoned following angry exchanges. Mr. Liam Chambers, a director of Organic Power Ltd, said this week that the man who chaired the meeting was subjected to "sectarian abuse" and the Gardaí had to be called to restore order.

Mr. Chambers added that the chairman was also threatened with a jug of water. However, Mr. Martin Galvin of CNAG said that the Gardaí were called because of "scaremongering". He denied that the chairman was threatened or that water had been thrown at him.

"There was a heated discussion, that was all." The meeting was adjourned after ten minutes.

Mr. Chambers confirmed that Organic Power Ltd has written to CNAG to ask for a meeting between the two sides so that detailed negotiations can take place. Three representatives from each side are expected to meet this week to see if they can find common ground.

Mr. Chambers said Organic Power Ltd was prepared to make "significant adjustments" to allay the fears of residents. The company is expected to apply for planning permission to Cork County Council next month, but its directors are anxious to complete negotiations with CNAG first.

Mr. Galvin said that members of CNAG, which is made up of residents from Castletownkinneigh, Newcestown and Enniskeane, are not opposed to alternative energy, but are concerned about the location of the turbines. The area is home to 1,200 people and some residents could be as close as 400 metres to turbines that are 118.5 metres high - nearly twice the height of County Hall.

CONCERNED

Mr. Galvin added: "Locals are concerned about the loss of the area's natural beauty, their health, the effect on wildlife and prospects for future generations living in the community. We fear that this development will kill our community."

Residents are also concerned about noise, flicker, the loss of TV or satellite signals and the visual impact of the large structures.

Organic Power Ltd is a new renewable energy company, based in Skibbereen. The current 90 or so shareholders include landowners on whose properties there is potential to site wind turbines, renewable energy enthusiasts, and some renewable energy specialists. More than 50 shareholders are from the Enniskeane, Ballineen, Newcestown and Castletown area.

The company is currently designing wind-farms and bio-energy projects in counties Cork and Kerry.

With rising prices for fossil fuels the company believes Irish people have two options - sourcing energy from local renewable sources or developing nuclear power, the first option being the favorable one.

The current directors of Organic Power Ltd are Liam Chambers and Maurice McCarthy, with associates listed as Georgios Kakagiannis, Dr. Robert Meehan and José Ospina.

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