Anger that windfarm got approval

A MAN-MADE disaster is how Maghanknockane landowner Tom Harrington is describing the weekend’s landslide, expressing the view that his worst fears about the construction of a windfarm in the area appear to have been realised.

Mr Harrington, who lives in Tralee and is now completely cut off from his land in the Maghanknockane area, is angry that objections to a proposed windfarm were overruled by An Bord Pleanála almost four years ago. Mr Harrington says concerns were raised by him, his brother, nephews and a number of other local people as far back as 2001.

All feared that heavy machinery and hundreds of tonnes of stone on the bog would not be safe and could result in a landslide. Now, seven years on, they struggle to take in the devastation that the weekend landslide caused. In addition to the damage to the bog, one of Mr Harrington’s greatest concerns is the effect it is having on the environment, with thousands of fish being killed and a rare hen harrier’s nest being wiped away.

In July 2004 Tom was one of 12 people who wrote to EU Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallstrom, to voice their concerns about the threat to the protected birds of prey should the windfarm development proceed. In the letter, locals said they were appalled that An Bord Pleanála had given permission for the development, saying that it would ‘seriously impact on the continuing existence and survival of the Hen Harrier of which there are only 20 pairs left in Kerry.” What Mr Harrington now wants is an independent investigation into the cause of the landslide to establish if local objections were in fact merited.