A DECISION to invite public submissions on proposals for windfarms has been welcomed by a West Cork group.
Members of Crushterra Voluntary Community Group – one of three groups that met with Denis Naughten TD, Minister for Communication, Climate Action and the Environment in Dunmanway recently – expressed their concerns about the proliferation of wind turbines in West Cork.
A spokesperson for the Crushterra Voluntary Community Group, Nicola Hassett, welcomed the opportunity to make submissions, saying that they could potentially find their way into the revised wind energy guidelines that are due to be finalised in July 2018.
She said the existing guidelines are unfit for purpose and have facilitated a deluge of inappropriate windfarm and substation planning applications.
Nicola Hassett told The Southern Star: ‘Local residents are overwhelmed by planning observations, appeals and judicial reviews in attempts to conserve and protect our natural and cultural heritage.’
She said: ‘Planning applications for windfarms are often submitted as several separate projects. The turbines are one application; the substation and cabling are a separate application; and the widening of a road to allow for the transport of equipment is another application. Yet all these will form one operational development.’
She said each application could be by a different company, yet they have the same board of directors, and are registered at the same address.
‘This project-splitting means people are often unaware of a relevant windfarm project in their area, and it makes it hard to visualise the final overall development and its consequences,’ she explained.
‘Developers engage in very little public consultation with locals,’ she added.
She said the government has acknowledged that the existing wind energy development guidelines do not afford adequate protection to the health and well-being of people living in proximity to them.
She pointed out that health experts have identified sleep problems, headaches, dizziness and exhaustion arising from noise emissions and shadow flicker.
Nicola Hassett asked: ‘Why should we in the community of Crushterra be subjected to higher noise levels than that which the Government’s own report states “is commonly used in different countries as an absolute limit”?’
She said most people believe that wind turbines equate to green energy and that is ‘a good thing’, but she pointed out that Co Cork now has the highest number of wind turbines in Ireland and that the Dunmanway area has the highest concentration in the county, and that ‘many people are worried’ as a result.
The December 2016 Wind Energy Association report showed that Cork’s connected wind energy in Ireland stands at 474.85mw, which is 28% higher than Donegal (at 370.74mw), with Kerry in third place, at 326.81mw.