Cork County Council is to ask the Government to urgently implement promised guidelines for windfarm developments because under current legislation it cannot carry out noise monitoring unless all turbines in a project are fully completed.
The issue was raised by Cllr John Paul O’Shea who said that many windfarms could operate for a number of years before they were assessed for noise pollution as it could take that long before all turbines were in place.
He pointed out that no county council monitoring can begin until three months after all turbines in a project become operational.
Mr O’Shea said he was in favour of renewable energy, but was concerned about guidelines because of the proliferation of so many operational windfarms in north west Cork; the number which have got planning but not yet built and many more which were at the planning application stage.
Council officials said there are 12 windfarms currently in operation in North Cork, with a total of 149 turbines generating 350 megawatts of power.
The largest of these is at Knockacummer, Newmarket, which has 29 turbines.
They are concentrated primarily in the Boggeragh, Derrynasaggart and Mullaghareirk mountains.
A further 12 windfarms have received planning approval from the county council but have yet to be commissioned. In total they feature 63 turbines and when all are operational will have an estimated output of 150 mega watts. The largest of these, which has 14 turbines, is earmarked for Castlepook, near Doneraile.
“I’ve come across a number of examples of people suffering because of the proximity of the turbines to their houses. The current legislation is 11 years old and allows turbines to be built 500 metres from houses. New guidelines being drawn up state a distance of a minimum of one kilometre and we need clarity on when they are to be introduced,” Mr O’Shea said.
“In my own area in recent weeks a family had to move house because of noise and it’s very unfortunate. We’re coming to a position that if we develop further wind turbines without new national guidelines we’re going to have more cases like this.
“We don’t have solar or off-shore wind energy guidelines either,” he added.
Cllr Frank O’Flynn said that he was concerned as a lot more planning applications were coming in for windfarms in the region.
Cllr Tim Collins, who lives in Meelin, which is one of the highest villages in North Cork, said he knew of many people whose television reception hab been interfered with by the turbines.
Cllr June Murphy went further and said the local authority should not issue any further permissions until the proposed national guidelines are made law.
Cllr Melissa Mullane said she was aware of families who were being put up in other houses or hotels by windfarm companies because of noise complaints.
“I accept closeness to residential properties is a problem, but we have to improve our outputs of renewable energy otherwise we will face fines from the European Union,” Cllr Gerard Murphy said.
Cllr Ian Doyle, who is chairman of the council’s Northern Division, said they would write to the government seeking an immediate legalisation of the proposed guidelines.
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