Councillors want limits on turbines

Simon Brouder

Several members of Kerry County Council have backed a proposal from Cllr John Joe Culloty that would see strict new rules introduced to stop wind turbines being erected near homes.

At Monday's monthly meeting of Kerry County Council, Cllr Culloty tabled a motion calling for a new rule on wind turbines - similar to the so called '1km rule' for mobile phone masts - to be inserted into the County Development Plan.

The new rule would require that any new turbine be set back from any dwelling house by a distance equivalent to at least 10 times it's maximum blade tip height.

For example, a 156 metre turbine - such as the ones currently proposed for Finuge - would have to be located at least 1,560 metres from any home.

Council management said it was impossible to make such a change to the Development Plan until Ministerial Guidelines on Wind Turbines are issued early next year.

A draft of the revised guidelines - which will update rules introduced in 2006 - suggest that turbines be 'setback' just four times the turbine height.

Cllr Culloty said planning regulations on turbines don't give enough consideration to communities.

"There is no regard for people who live in these areas. There's more democracy in North Korea," he said.

His views were backed by several councillors.

"Turbines have caused devastation. Parishes and communities have been split for evermore. You don't understand the scale until you stand near them. They're monstrous," said Cllr Brendan Cronin (Ind).

Cllr John Lucid (FF) said that when it came to turbines "local democracy has gone out the window".

Cllr Michael Gleeson (KIA) said turbine developers had "steam-rolled" communities and "desecrated" some of the county's most scenic areas.

Cllr Culloty said if the Government cannot provide a firm date when the revised guidelines will be issued - and if they subsequently fail to meet that deadline - he will push for Kerry County Council to vote on his proposal.