DESPITE concerns by An Taisce about the erection of wind farms in scenic areas of Kerry, official policy is to encourage the continuing development of wind-generated electricity.
Turbines now dominate large sections of elevated and hilly areas of Kerry, especially in the southern, eastern and northern areas of the county.
The rapid pace of wind energy development in Kerry is underlined by the granting of planning permission for 41 wind farms, including 350 turbines, by Kerry County Council in the past two years.
About 50% of all permitted wind turbines have been constructed, generating 345MW of electricity, according to an up-to-date report by council director of planning Michael McMahon.
The council had been “very proactive’’ in facilitating the growth of wind energy, he said. The planning department is currently working on a new wind and renewable energy policy, which will later be put out for public consultation.
“This will ensure that the harnessing of wind and renewable energy will occur in a manner, or area, most appropriate,’’ Mr McMahon said.
But An Taisce has warned that wind farms could blight the scenic mountainous landscape, especially along the Cork/Kerry border and in the Dingle Peninsula.
The heritage group, while welcoming wind farms as a source of renewable energy, has criticised the designation of certain areas as “open for consideration” for wind farms in the Kerry County Development Plan 2009 to 2015.
It has been strongly critical of moves to erect turbines in the Dingle Peninsula, in sight of two major tourist routes, the Tralee to An Daingean road and the Conor Pass road.
Surveys show that up to 90% of tourists come to Kerry because of the scenery but wind farms in some locations can have a severe visual impact.
Meanwhile, plans for a 48-turbine wind farm in south Kerry have been submitted to An Bord Pleanála.
Initial plans for the development in Mastergeehy, Waterville by Laune Energy Ltd are at the pre-application consultation stage. The turbines would have a 144 megawatt output.
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