Locals believe windfarm is linked to bog slide disaster

Objections to windfarm pointed out landslide risk

DEVASTATED residents affected by the weekend’s landslide on the Stacks Mountains believe there could be a link between the massive bog burst on Saturday and construction work which began two weeks ago at a nearby windfarm.

Work began at Ballincollig Hill in the Maghanknockane area of Lyreacrompane just a number of weeks ago with the construction of roadways into the windfarm site. Locals say that while rainfall may well be a contributory factor, they feel that there may also be a link between Saturday’s massive landslide and works at the windfarm site.

A number of locals in the area raised concerns about the possibe risk of a landslide when the initial planning permission was sought for the windfarm. However, their objections were overruled and the development was given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála in June, 2004.

The company behind the windfarm — Tralee-based Trá Investments — has confirmed that it is to carry out an independent investigation into the cause of the landslide.

Local brothers Maurice and Tom Harrington told The Kerryman that they, along with others, raised concerns with An Bord Pleanála as to the suitability of the ground for such a development as far back as 2003.

They now feel that the weekend’s devastating bog burst could be linked to construction work on the windfarm. Correspondence to an Bord Pleanála from the Harringtons’ solicitor in March 2004 outlines a number of concerns about the possibility of a landslide, with the Harringtons and a number of other objectors predicting that ‘a major disaster is imminent on the scale of the one at Derrybrien in county Galway.” “I’m not opposed to wind energy but I always felt this could happen if heavy machinery is in and out,” Maurice Harrington said.

“We pointed out our concerns to An Bord Pleanála years ago but the planning permission was granted anyway.” The fear for locals now is that more landslides may be imminent and more devastation may follow the weekend’s disaster. As Kerry County Council now attempts to put in place a clean up programme, Trá Investments has confirmed that initial site works have taken place over the past two weeks and, following the landslide at the weekend, an independent study will be carried out by the company.

“The company has offered full assistance to the authorities in helping those affected, and the local community and Trá Investments have instructed Carlow-based geotechnical consultancy, AGEC Ltd to undertake an independent study into the cause of the landslide,” a company statement read. “AGEC has extensive experience of ground investigation and highway earthworks, both in Ireland and the UK. The company provides specialist geotechnical engineering and engineering geology advice to local authorities, contractors and consultants.” A spokesperson for the company said that the findings will be made public when this study is completed and that no further comment will be made on the issue until then.