WIND FARM construction will have to at least treble in Kerry and other coastal counties if the State is to meet its 2020 Kyoto targets, according to one of the companies behind the hugely-controversial plans for a wind farm in Finuge.
North Kerry can expect to see scores of new applications being lodged with the local authority in the coming years as the wind farm industry squares up to what one of the Finuge project planners described as its biggest challenge.
Wind farm construction will have to increase by three or four times the current rate to meet the State's 2020 target of generating 40 per cent of our electricity from wind energy by 2020, chief planner on the Finuge project Brian Keville, of Galway-based consultant planners McCarthy Keville O'Sullivan, told The Kerryman.
It is against this background Stacks Mountain Windfarm Ltd is lodging an application to erect ten massive turbines in Finuge - which would be the highest in the country - in what has become one of the most controversial wind energy projects ever seen in the county.
Up to 300 locals in the Ballyhorgan area of Finuge and surrounding townlands erected signs outside their homes indicating all are up for sale pending a decision on the windfarm application.
The dramatic gesture has captured national and international attention.
Mr Keville has moved to assure locals their concerns are mainly unfounded, saying there is no research to suggest that house prices or health would be affected by the presence of the massive turbines.
"There is simply no evidence to say that people won't be able to open their windows with the noise, that they won't be able to sleep at night or that their health will be impacted, these beliefs are not informed by the evidence," he said. Wind energy companies are required to ensure homes are not affected by 'shadow flicker', for example, for any longer than half an hour in the day.
"In Kerry the average amount of sunshine per day is between 28 and 30 per cent of daylight. The location of the turbines, sun and home is known at all times and companies simply turn off individual turbines to ensure they do not exceed the guideline of a maximum 30 minutes' shadow flicker per day on an individual home," Mr Keville said.
Finuge was chosen as the nearest suitable location to an ESB substation in Muingnaminane.
"The Stacks mountains are no longer feasible due to wildlife protection status so the company looked to the nearest possible location feasible and open to consideration for windfarm development under the County Development Plan," he added.