Residents of an area close to Dunmanway are determined to challenge a planned windfarm, they tell Brian Moore
THE small community of Moneylea, Dunmanway, is determined to appeal the decision to locate industrial wind turbines on Shehy Mountain, Cork’s highest mountain which is home to bronze age monuments.
Resident Russell Barnett said that the decision to grant planning permission for the windfarm comprising 11 turbines, each 130m high, is a major concern due to the proximity to their homes - one of the turbines is to be placed on an elevated site, less than 500m from his home. They are also concerned over potential noise issues.
‘We are very shocked that planning permission was approved for what is an industrial-sized development on one of West Cork’s most iconic mountains,’ Russell said.
‘We live in a very scenic area and the idea of placing these very large turbines so close to people’s homes has left many residents in this area worried about their future in this community.’
The residents have started a campaign to appeal An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant permission to Shehy More Windfarm Ltd.
‘We contacted the local TDs and councillors,’ Jenny Lindeberg, another resident said. ‘We met with Jim Daly who told us that he would look into the matter, and Michael Collins wrote a letter to Minister Simon Coveney requesting that a minimum distance of 2000m from any residence should be applied to all proposed wind turbines.’
She said one one of their biggest concerns was that large amounts of peat would be removed during construction which would see bog areas destroyed and result in heavy silting down to local rivers.
‘The rivers below Shehy are in the catchmenbt area of the Bandon River, home to the highly endangered fresh water pearl mussels,’ she said.
Shehy More Windfarms Ltd is registered at a postal address in Lissarda, along with 75 other limited companies. However, apart from the postal address, The Southern Star was unable to make contact with the registered company owner Michael Murnane for a comment.
‘We have spoken with Council officials who were here a few days ago to survey the road right outside our house where the cable from the turbines may be laid,’ added Russell.
‘This is another major concern. We want to get in contact with Michael Murnane to discuss his company’s plans in detail and to put our concerns to him.
‘As per the 2016 Act referring to the code of good practice concerning windfarm developments, it is stipulated that each developer must appoint a community liaison officer (CLO), to keep in touch with the local community affected by the development. We have had no contact with one.’
For now, the residents are busy fundraising in an effort to raise the money to fight the planning decision for the wind turbines.
‘We are determined to take our case to the High Court,’ Jenny said. ‘However, is this is going to cost in the region of €100,000? We have a fantastic community here and we have all come together. We have had cake sales, movie evenings for local children, clothes collections, a variety concert in Inchigeelagh with Greenshine and storyteller Pat Speight among others, and weekly guided local heritage walks. Everyone is working hard to raise the money needed to fight this planning decision and we have lots of more events planned for the near future.’
The residents have set up a Facebook page, Breaking Wind, where future events will be posted.
Also the group has a GoFundMe campaign at gofundme.com/shehywindgroup.