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Tuesday 25 June 2019

Locals concerned over Bottlehill wind farm plan

'No protection for rural communities fighting these kinds of developments'

Bill Browne

A large crowd of more than 270 people attended a public meeting last Friday night in Mourneabbey to discuss a proposal to build a 27 turbine wind farm on a section of the mothballed Bottlehill 'super dump' site.

Last month The Corkman revealed that Canadian company Brookfield Renewable (Ireland) Ltd and Coillte had commenced the pre-application process with An Bord Pleanala for the development at Knockdoorty, Glannasack. 

Last Friday's meeting, which was attended by residents from Carrinavar, Mourbeabbey, Glenville, Killavullen, Whitehurch and Grenagh, was organised by the recently formed Nagle View Turbine Aware (NVTA) group. 

A number of speakers addressed the meeting, airing concerns about a number of issues, including the potential damage the development could cause to the local ecology, the risks it could pose to people living in close proximity to the turbines and the  impact it may have on local property prices. 

Speakers included Caroline Cook of Scartaglen, Co Kerry who spoke about how her home had become a "war zone" since turbines close to it became operational last year. 

Betty Hyde, a GP from Mallow,  highlighted the negative health effects that can be caused to those living close to wind turbines and spoke about the symptoms experienced by those suffering what has been termed 'wind turbine syndrome'. 

Fred O'Sullivan of Sliabh Luachra Wind Aware urged farmers approached by developers seeking to put wind turbines on their land to seek legal advice and "think twice" before signing contracts as these developments place a "heavy burden" on farmland. 

Stephen Glass of the Ardglass Wind turbine Awareness Group spoke about how they had defeated two wind farms projects in East Cork and encouraged the community to have their say when it came to submitting objections once a planning application is lodged. 

Speaking to The Corkman, NVTA PRO Amy Connolly said it was wonderful to see so many people come out to support the group and "voice their concerns" about the proposed development. 

She stressed that while the NVTA was not against the creation of renewable energy it was important that the switch from fossil fuels was done "in a responsible manner and not to the detriment of the health and wellbeing of those living in rural Ireland." 

Ms Connolly described the public consultation between Brookfield, Coillte and the local community to date as being "woefully inadequate". 

"Initially we had been promised six technical workshops which would address a number of aspects of the project, such as noise, visual impact etc. Instead, there were three information sessions which were run in quick succession over a week last November 2018," she said. 

"The community got very little notice of these meetings and anyone from the community who did attend with very important questions left those meetings none the wiser as to what this development could mean for the community as those questioned went unanswered."

She said that in preparation for the meeting the NVTA met with eight auctioneers from areas in Cork, Kerry and Waterford where there were operational wind farms. 

"The results of that were very worrying. They found there was a drop of at least 50% in the value of property in areas where there are industrial wind farms and, in some instances, were finding it difficult to sell houses and sites at all," said Ms Connolly. 

She said it was "extremely frustrating there was no protection for rural communities fighting these kinds of developments." 

"The 2006 Wind Energy Development guidelines are completely outdated and unfit for purpose and were drafted at a time when wind turbines were standing 60-80 metres high. We now have wind turbines standing at 169 metres high and getting higher, yet the Government has failed to implement revised guidelines for a very long time now and are dragging their heels on the issue," said Ms Connolly. 

"What we as a group, and indeed other community groups around the country, are calling for is for a moratorium to be placed on all wind developments until revised guidelines are put in place."

The Corkman attempted to contact both Brookfield Renewable (Ireland) and Coillte for comment but had not received a reply from either at time of going to press For more information about Nagle View Turbine Aware and their campaign visit www.nvta.ie or their dedicated Facebook and Twitter pages.

Corkman

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