Anger at traffic plan for wind-farm

Residents raise traffic concerns with developers at local wind-farm meeting

Concubhar Ó Liatháin

The developers of a €180m windfarm project on the Kerry/Cork border are to meet with Kerry and Cork County Councils this week to come up with a traffic-management plan to allow the delivery of concrete to the windfarm.

This follows a public meeting last week in the Top of Coom, which was attended by some 60 local residents.

They are angry at the plan as it will lead to a massive increase of heavy goods vehicles on the scenic route from Morley's Bridge near Kilgarvan to the site, near the Top of Coom, Ireland's highest pub.

At a public meeting, Kerry Wind Power representatives told local residents that they had revised the plan to take the traffic - comprising of up to 60 cement lorries per day, for two days a week over five months to the site at Grousemount - from Morley's Bridge.

While the Kerry Wind Power officials stressed the revision was a result of their efforts to accommodate concerns expressed by residents in Cúil Aodha - in opposition to a plan to have a one-way route taking the traffic through the Gaeltacht village - the developers' Traffic Management Plan had been rejected on August 14 by Cork County Council. In those circumstances, the developers reverted to the two-way traffic system which had accompanied the original application approved by An Bórd Pleanála.

The proposed wind farm, which is a linchpin of the Government's effort to avoid massive EU fines for exceeding emission levels, had been scheduled to be completed by this year. Now it is scheduled to be generating power by the end of 2019.

At last Tuesday's public meeting, ESB Head of Construction Jim Murray made a number of commitments with respect to concerns expressed by locals.

These included a trial three-week period for the traffic management plan, which would be reviewed with locals at the end of that period; consultation with locals regarding locations of proposed lay-bys on the road, which is impassable for two vehicles travelling towards each other in several locations; and a promise to repair damages to private property caused by the heavy wind-farm traffic.

The developers, however, would not make a commitment to 'properly' reinstate the road between Morley's Bridge and Cúil Aodha, as it was pointed out this could cost more than €1m.

Examples of the type of reinstatement which did not meet the standards of locals was a stretch of road west of Cúil Aodha, which had work done on it recently by the developers  and had already developed potholes. Mr Murray signed a written list of nine commitments at the meeting and said he would consult with his colleagues in the ESB before returning a confirmed list of commitments to the local residents, represented by the Glen Committee.

Comprising 38 massive wind turbines - which will each measure 126 metres from ground to tip, with spans of 53metres - the wind farm is to be one of the largest ever built in the country.

The project was initially estimated to cost €180m, but delays up to now have pushed that estimate upwards, with some putting it at €252m.

There had been considerable local frustration at the ongoing works, with stop-go systems being in place on surrounding roads for long periods. Anger had also simmered at the deterioration of the roads due to ducting works being carried out on the road from Ballyvourney through Cúil Aodha since late 2016.

According to a Kerry Wind Power spokesperson, the developers were responsible, and strongly supportive of the local community.

They pointed to aid given by the project to local community initiatives and festivals including sponsoring sports gear for local GAA club, Naomh Abán; and supporting the provision of broadband.

Kerryman

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