Permission granted for controversial Kerry wind farm turbines

A controversial wind farm proposal for turbines reaching 150 metres in height and 120-metre diameter blades in the heart of historic Sliabh Luachra area in Kerry has been granted permission by An Bord Pleanala.

Permission granted for controversial Kerry wind farm turbines

A controversial wind farm proposal for turbines reaching 150 metres in height and 120 metre diameter blades in the heart of historic Sliabh Luachra area in Kerryhas been granted permission by An Bord Pleanala.

Silverbirch Renewables, Ltd, based at the Kerry Technology Park in Tralee, had sought planning for a total of 14 turbines over seven townlands between Ballydesmond and Gneeveguilla, 18 km from Killarney the along the Kerry-Cork border.

Bogland, wet grassland, commercial forestry along with villages and one-off housing characterise the landscape of the almost 100 hectare site.

An Bord Pleanala has refused permission for two of the turbines to protect the natural heritage of the site “and avoid any adverse effect on the local population of the Hen Harrier”. The windfarm had been turned down by Kerry County Council in May 2017.

The council said the size and scale of the proposed wind farm would have a significant impact on the value and character of the landscapes in the area and would seriously injure the amenity and quality of life of communities and individuals who dwell in the area. The council had concerns too for the hen harrier and proximity to the headwaters of the Munster Blackwater, an important angling river valley which divides Cork and Kerry.

The community along the county border have protested strongly saying the area would be saturated and overwhelmed and their way of life ruined. They also objected on health grounds.

Close to 70 submissions were received by the board from interested parties, individuals, community and environmental groups.The Department of Agriculture raised issues about the effect on the grassland habitat and on existing forestry.

The Sliabh Luachra Wind Awareness Group meetings were held in houses and local halls, in the townlands of Toreenagarriv, Ballynahulla, Barna, Knocknageeha, Lisheen, Reanasup and Reaboy.

Appealing the council's refusal, Silverbirch said the size and scale was in line with international trends and in accordance with local and regional plans as the area was designated open to consideration for wind.

The turbines would be “no closer “ to neighbouring housing than many other existing and permitted windfarms, it also said.

An Bord Pleanala Inspector Robert Speer who visited the site acknowledged that “multiple individual properties” had the potential to be impacted. However noise was unlikely to be significant for any house more than 500 metres away.

The effects of shadow flicker, and infrasound on human health had been raised by the dozens of observers, but this was beyond the remit of the board, the inspector said.

An Bord Pleanala has now given its decision permitting the windfarm but attaching 22 conditions.

In giving the go-ahead, the board said it had regard to national policy on alternative energy to minimise greenhouse gases, as well as the designation of the area as open to consideration, the character of the landscape and the distance from dwellings.

Unlike the local council, An Bord Pleanala says the development would not have a significant adverse effect on the landscape or on the visual or residential amenities of the area or its heritage.

Local councillor Niall Kelleher (FF) said he was very disappointed and said he was “standing square” behind the residents.

“There are places in Ireland for windfarms and this is not one of them,” he said.

A legal challenge to the decision is being considered,Mr Kelleher confirmed.

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