Councillors in Kerry ‘astonished’ at wind turbine proximity to homes

No provision has been made in planning laws, in Kerry, for a minimum distance of the erection of huge wind turbines from family homes.

Some county councillors said they were “astonished” that 150m-high turbines were being located 500m from residences. Councillors are demanding that large turbines, compared to the height of Dublin’s Spire, should be a minimum distance of 10 times their height, or at least 1.2km, from homes.

Controversy has raged in Kerry in recent months with wind turbine construction now continuing in populated lowland areas, especially along the Wild Atlantic Way tourist route.

Amid a controversial proposed energy project in the heart of Sliabh Luachra, county councillors were told at a meeting of the Killarney Municipal District that there were no ‘minimum distance’ regulations.

Telecommunication masts are governed by a 1km rule but no provision is in place in the County Development Plan for the erection of wind turbines.

Councillor Donal Grady said the lack of regulation is extraordinary and he had witnessed people crying over the inconvenience and noise of turbines near their homes.

The community in Sliabh Luachra, meanwhile, is calling for a minimum 2km distance from family homes.

A region bordering Cork, Kerry, and Limerick, it is a designated area of cultural and heritage importance.

Locals have mobilised against plans for what they describe as “monstrous” turbines of 150m height along an 8km stretch through seven townlands in the heart of a music and cultural homeland.

Silver Birch Renewables Ltd, based at the Kerry Technology Park in Tralee, had sought planning for 14 turbines between Ballydesmond and Gneeveguilla.

Objectors say houses on the Cork side of Ballydesmond will suffer as much as on the Kerry side.

The application was lodged in April but was recently turned down by Kerry County Council.

Shaun O’Rourke, whose home is 500m from one of the proposed turbines, said in the event of an appeal by Silver Birch, a Sliabh Luachra Wind Awareness Group is continuing to organise meetings in homes and local halls, in the townlands of Toreenagarriv, Ballynahulla, Reaboy, Barna, Knocknageeha, Lisheen, and Reanasup.

Wind farm development is considered by some to be at saturation point in parts in Kerry. In 2015, only half of the 402 turbines granted permission in the Tralee and Listowel area had been constructed. North Kerry councillor Jimmy Moloney said the 2006 national guidelines were for turbines 40m-50m in height, in mountainous areas far from residents.

“Now they are at least 120 metres — the height of the Spire in Dublin — and are coming into densely populated areas,” he noted.

Mr Moloney is to table a motion at the full council, demanding turbines should be a distance of “10 times their height” from homes.

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