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Windmills ‘are a nightmare’

By Maria Herlihy The hills of Rockchapel are alive with the sound of ... windmills, where residents are anything but happy that, with planning already granted for 56 windmills another six received the green light last week.

Many feel that 62 huge windmills in an area like Rockchapel will have a devastating effect on the rural community from an environmental, health, housing and employment aspect.

The 11 windmills now operating in Taurbeg since February are already posing problems to residents, with many claiming the giant turbines are causing sleepless nights. The sound of the turbines was described by one resident as like a “plane which consistently hovers but never lands”.

In addition, residents says they can no longer pick up any frequency on their radios with TV reception also suffering. There are also complaints of problems with not only landline phones but also mobiles.

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Residents are clearly concerned that the granting of an additional six windmills for Foiladaun, which lies adjacent to the 11 currently operating in Taurbeg, will bring nothing but more noise and devastation to the area.

Rockchapel resident Thomas O’Mahony told The Corkman that his family did not sleep a wink last Thursday week. “The noise from the windmills kept everybody in the area awake. I have twin girls under six months old and trying to keep babies asleep with that racket is very difficult. The thought of another six going up within 500 metres of my front door is just a nightmare,” said Mr O’Mahony.

He said the noise pollution from the existing 11 in Taurbeg is already posing not only health problems but he fears Rockchapel, while under the CLAR programme, would not be seen as a viable place to live. “There is a great fear that the price of property in the area will plummet as no one will want to live in an area with the booming sound of 62 windmills,” added Mr O’Mahony.

A hub height of 80 metres, blade length of 41 metres and total height from blade to tip of 121 metres makes the windmills in Rockchapel the highest in Europe, it was claimed.

Another resident, Yvonne Sheahan, told The Corkman she moved from England to Rockchapel 18 months ago for the tranquility and beauty - that is now completely eroded. “The windmills are an eyesore and do not fit into the natural beauty of Rockchapel. They cause severe noise pollution and everyone is having trouble with their TVs, radios and phones. This really is a nightmare,” said Yvonne Sheehan.

By Maria Herlihy

RESIDENTS in Rockchapel are clearly unhappy and very concerned with the green light this week of an additional six giant windmills for Foiladaun, and feel the 56 already granted will have a devastating effect on the entire community.

While the growing role and need of renewable energy is acknowledged, in helping to curb the effects of environmental pollution and the effects of global warming, people in Rockchapel feel they have received over and above their quota of wind farm development.

A major cause of concern is the proposed location of the six turbines at Foiladaun, which will only be 500 metres from some residents front door.

With 11 turbines now operating at Taurbeg since February, the giant windmills with a hub height of 80 metres, blade length of 41 metres and the total height from blade to tip measures 121 metres, which reportedly makes the windmills in Rockchapel to be the highest in Europe, many residents have spoken to The Corkman and issued their concerns about the significant noise pollution, interference to radios, television signals, landlines and mobile phones.

Worrringly the site for the proposed six turbines at Foiladaun, lies adjacent to the 11 operating turbines at Taurbeg and residents are very concerned of the future impact such massive turbines would not only cause to their lives and health but also to the environment.

There is also disquiet should the 62 turbines become a reality, property in the area will plummet and according to one resident; 17 houses were built in Rockchapel last year, which was a record high since the dark days of 1980s mass emigration.

It is felt the population will not develop with the booming sound of in excess of 60 turbines in one area.

While Rockchapel is included in the CLAR initiative, which aims to halt population decline and encourage housing development, the increase in wind farm development in the area will have the opposite effect, according to Thomas O’Mahony, who told The Corkman, the noise from the 11 turbines at Taurbeg is causing sleepless nights due to the continuous whirling sound and noise from the turbines.

A major concern for residents is the sites chosen for the photomontage in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) were according to residents, very selective.

The EIS was undertaken by the research company, Atkins, on behalf of Kemar.

A Companies Registration Office (CRO) search has stated Kemar is listed as a Research and Experimental Development on Natural Sciences and Engineering company.

The joint directors are listed as Kevin Fitzgibbon and Mary Moloney with an address of 2 Empress Place, Summerhill North, Cork city.

The company came into existence on September 12 2005. While the owner of the land where the six turbines are earmarked hails from County Tipperary.

Another gripe for residents is that pictures taken by the researches, does not reflect the true reality on the ground. Residents have told The Corkman, they requested photomontages at the pubic meetings and were not subsequently furnished to them by the researchers.

Landowners in the area also feel ignored and that more photomontages should have been prepared in order to provide a more balanced view of the visual impact. Some of the photomontages taken were prepared in locations in Kerry and Limerick – which are miles away from the proposed site, residents have stated.

For the residents, the photomontages were of a “poor quality in distant shots,” as they show the turbines with a somewhat hazy or fuzzed appearance.

One man told The Corkman, the photomontages of the turbines looked like “needles,” but when they were under construction did not clearly reflect what the researchers had produced.

Another concern for residents is the site which can be seen from scenic routes will suffer from a “flicker” and the turbines looks “densely stacked,” and this will only add to “visual chaos,” said a resident.

Another major concern is public safety, as the 11 existing turbines can be clearly seen by motorists, as once the giant turbines come into view, there is a fear the giant turbines will cause a lapse in driving concentration.

In addition, during the Summer, it is common for the blades of windmills to ‘flicker,’ which again, residents believe could well cause a lapse in concentration when driving.

It is felt that windfarm development must be viewed in terms of their overall effect on the community, the individual, the environment, protected species and visual landscape – with Rockchapel on line for a staggering 62 turbines, residents feel the entire area will be nothing more than the whistling sound of a 24-hour airport.