independent

Wednesday 19 June 2019

'We will fight for our lives and future'

Residents of Sliabh Luachra voice their anger at Planning decision

Nora Dennehy and Sean O’Rouke from Ballydesmond. A protest was held at the Kerry County Council offices in Tralee over the Council’s decision to give the go-ahead to a battery facility in Ballydesmond. Photoby Dominick Walsh
Nora Dennehy and Sean O’Rouke from Ballydesmond. A protest was held at the Kerry County Council offices in Tralee over the Council’s decision to give the go-ahead to a battery facility in Ballydesmond. Photoby Dominick Walsh
Part of the protest at KCC offices in Tralee over the council’s decision to give the go-ahead to a battery facility in Ballydesmond. Photo: Domnick Walsh

Sinead Kelleher

The community of Ballydesmond have been left down by Kerry County Council and are now facing what they claim are ‘catastrophic’ implications that their planning decisions will have on the community according to spokesperson, Fred O’Sullivan.

He was speaking at a protest at Kerry County Council on Monday morning ahead of the monthly meeting by residents of Ballydesmond who are angered and upset by Kerry County Council decision to granting planning for a battery storage facility at Ballinahulla in Ballydesmond despite hundreds of objections from local residents who fear for their safety and health because of this new technology, which is being used to store electricity from renewable resources for the grid.

The protesters feel that management of Kerry County Council are more focused on business than the community and their health and well-being and future are in danger because of the battery storage compound.

The planning decision is being appealed to An Bord Pleanála and protesters have vowed to take the fight to the Supreme court if necessary.

Anita O’Sullivan Wharton feels that the battery storage compound is jeopardising the future of their community and of their children.

Among the fears cited is that of a fire which could lead to toxic smoke in the community.

The compound is 2k from the village and less than 700m from some houses.

“We are disgusted. It is bringing tears that our homes will be no more. I don’t know how they could have done this to us.”

“We will not stand for it. We will fight,” she added.

Nora Dennehy said that the worry is that who is responsible for the compound?

“They tell us there is a robust alarm system but who is responsible. Will it be some-one in China. What if they sell it?. I’m enraged at the decision,” she said.

Some gathered at the protest to also voice their concerns at the planned Gneeveguilla windfarm and have pleaded for longer set-back distances for turbines.

Local community says battery unit could be a fire hazard

Giving a green light for a battery storage unit in Ballydesmond was done without much regard for the people of the area, claimed one protester at this week's demonstration outside Kerry County Council on Monday.

That was the view point of Mary O'Connell who lives in the village and who said her greatest fear is that the battery units will go on fire and emit toxic smoke. 

"I am only about one mile from Ballinahulla and I am very worried. If such a  fire happens it will have a toxic effect for people, for the environment and for our health and our children's future," she claimed.

"People do not want these battery units in Ballinahulla. In my view, they are absolutely negative. There was a great fighting community spirit on Monday at the public protest and we plan to take this all the way," said Mary. 

Mary says  that the battery compound is the "last straw for the community."

"Ballydesmond was first hit with an onslaught of wind turbines and now it is the battery storage unit. It is the last straw. I attended the public meetings and became very involved with the community as people do not want them. Who would buy a house in Ballydesmond with these batteries around the place?," she asked. 

She also claimed that from the research undertaken on battery units  they are not "supposed to be close to houses, people or children," but yet Kerry County Council granted permission for 40 in Ballinahulla. 

"This is hugely daunting for people in the area and people are becoming very aware of their potential danger especially fire as the smoke is toxic. There is a huge fighting spirit in Ballydesmond and we are very determined to keep them out," she said.

In April this year, KCC granted planning permission to Redfaze Ltd, who are based in Lissrada, with conditions attached. The conditions attached include the installation of a "robust alarm system to be put in place" and that Redfaze Ltd put in place a noise complaint procedure. 

The granting of the planning permission is causing serious angst for many people in Ballydesmond and Gneeveguilla who lodged over 60 formal objections along with up to a group signature with over 200 names to Kerry County Council prior to the decision.

Corkman

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