Kerry wind farm ‘a threat’ to Sliabh Luachra area

A heartland of old Gaelic music and literature is refusing to dance to the tune of wind developers.

Locals in Sliabh Luachra have warned a “whole way of life of a historic community” is being threatened by proposals for some of the biggest wind turbines in Co Kerry.

Tralee-based Silver Birch Renewables has submitted a planning application for 14 turbines which will have a blade tip up to 150m from the ground level.

The proposed farm will stretch for more than 8km between Ballydesmond and Gneeveguilla.

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

The huge application was lodged last month.

However, a Sliabh Luachra Wind Awareness Group has swung into action and is holding meetings in family homes and local halls, and distributing letters warning about what exactly is planned for townlands such as Toreenagarriv, Ballynahulla, Barna, Knocknageeha, Lisheen, Reanasup, and Reaboy.

“They would be the among the highest wind turbines in the country,” a spokesman warns. So far, Kerry County Council has received 50 formal objections and a group objection of 180 signatures.

Killarney councillor Brendan Cronin warned the project could be divisive.

“This could have a devastating effect on families. It splits communites,” said Mr Cronin.

Resident Shaun O’Rourke, whose home is 500m from a proposed turbine, said: “The go-ahead of these turbines would have a catastrophic environmental impact on the area as it is a haven for wildlife and there are four endangered birds nesting in the area. Soil excavation from the work would encourage Japanese knotweed to grow profusely and there would be huge damage to flora, fauna, and fish.

“In fact, our whole way of life is threatened.”

Mr O’Rourke also noted local fears about health risks and also a threat to local turf cutting rights.

The Sliabh Luachra Windfarm Awareness Group said, with the backing of the community and local councillors, it is doing “everything” in its power to prevent planning.

A spokesperson for the Department of the Environment said new planning guidelines on wind farms have not been finalised.

Last December, the Government was forced to defer new guidelines following a European Court ruling which will lay down rules on how far wind turbines should be set back from residential dwellings as well as noise aspects, and light and shadow flicker from rotating blades.

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