100m wind turbine plan for Killorglin town

Pharmaceutical company Astellas to lodge planning application with Council

KEVIN HUGHES khughes@kerryman.ie

KILLORGLIN'S landscape could soon feature the town's first commercial wind turbine if planning permission for the 100 metre eco-friendly structure is given the green light by Kerry County Council.

Clooncar rig-based pharmaceutical manufacturer Astellas hopes to install on-site the 800 kilowatt tower to provide 22 percent of its annual 1.8GW electricity use and claims the structure would help the local employer become sustainable into the future.

Stretching to 100 metres, the Enercon turbine would have a hub height of 76 metres and blades with a maximum diameter of 57 metres. The Astellas plant is 12 metres in height, meaning the structure would dwarf the current building by almost 90 metres and be visible from the Ring of Kerry.

With a planning application set to be lodged on February 11, the company last Thursday held an information day to address any local concerns.

Stating that numerous tests and pre planning meetings have given the all clear, engineering manager Micheál Cassidy claimed the turbine would have minimum impact in the area.

"We have carried out a 14-month wind study and a full environmental assessment, including noise, shadow flicker and telecommunication studies, and there has been no impact on each. The turbine is gearless so mechanical noise is reduced and it is not on top of a mountain so it is less obtrusive."

He added that noise levels were below Department of Environment recommended levels and impact on ambient noise levels can be regarded as "not significant".

Referring to television reception, he said a modelling assessment carried out by Traleebased Environmental Consultants OES and Cobham Technical Services ( UK) proved positive.

"One of the most common questions has related to television reception. The results of the assessment showed that the signal within Killorglin is strong and the wind turbine will have a negligible impact on TV signal quality in the local area."

The engineer also referred to a potential drop in CO2 emissions of 100 tonnes per year, stating that the turbine would be a "landmark structure" which would show green industry working in Killorglin. And he added that there were definitely no plans to build further turbines in the area as this would mean selling to the grid.

" We're trying to reduce unit costs to make us as competitive as possible, to attract new products onsite."

Contacting local residents, The Kerryman were told that there had previously been concerns which the company has since addressed.

"We've been told that TV and noise problems shouldn't occur, so it seems fine," one resident stated.

"If it operates at the levels they say it will, then we won't have any problems. Astellas told us that we simply have to contact them if we have problems and they will sort it," another stated, adding that she didn't believe the turbine would look out of place.

Astellas employs 290 in Killorglin, with a further 70 workers on long term contract. While the company is currently investing in two new production lines this year and another by 2012, there are no plans to increase the workforce.

Killorglin is part of an exclusion zone for windfarms in the County Development Plan but commercial and industrial use zoning means that single turbines can be applied for.

While Mr Cassidy said the initial reaction had been " very, very positive," it remains to be seen if objections will arise locally once lodgement of application.