Wind energy storage plan for Cork-Kerry border faces objection

An application for a large battery storage compound near an electricity substation on the Cork-Kerry border is being vigorously opposed by locals, who warn of a historic area being turned into “an industrial minefield”.

Battery storage compounds capture surplus energy from wind farms during high winds, releasing it back into the power stations when the turbines are slack. The technology is relatively new in Ireland.

The application by Lissarda, Co Cork-based Redfaze Ltd is for up to 40 battery storage units, equipment, and transformers to be installed in the townland of Ballynahulla, 3km from the Sliabh Luachra village of Ballydesmond.

Landowner Thomas Herlihy of Ballynahulla has given permission for the development on his lands, according to the planning application file to Kerry County Council.

Huge objections have been mounted in the past decade to large wind turbines which mushroomed in the Sliabh Luachra area. A proposed large project by Tralee company Silverbirch Renewables is still, a year later, with An Bord Pleanála.

Fred O’Sullivan of Gneeveguilla, a member of the Sliabh Luachra Wind Awareness group, has written to the county council claiming the area is already “awash with wind farms”.

He said residents felt they were “being pushed out of our homes”.

Locals, he said, are concerned about a battery storage proposal and are still conducting research on guidelines in other countries.

"This kind of battery storage is at its infancy stage in Ireland."

The lithium batteries used in compounds, he said, are prone to explosion, causing major fires and toxic cloud, he stated in documents submitted to the council.

Mr O’Sullivan noted that, in Australia, regulations advise batteries must be placed underground due to risks and, in the US, they must be 10 miles from buildings.

He further believes prevailing south-westerly winds could blow a toxic conflagration into the heart of Ballydesmond village within minutes of an incident occurring.

The objection, meanwhile, is also critical of the lack of public consultation for such a new venture saying residents discovered the site notice on a little-used roadway.

Sliabh Luachra, said Mr O’Sullivan, had been settled by native Irish refugees fleeing from the plantations in the better lands near Killarney and north Cork and became a repository for music and culture. It was ironic that 500 years later, he said, their “way of life was threatened once again”.

“Our townland is already awash with wind turbines and we feel we are being pushed out of our homes. Sliabh Luachra has been turned into an industrial minefield,” according to the group’s objection.

The closing date for objections to Kerry County Council is this weekend.

Around 54 wind turbines are currently located in the Sliabh Luachra area while the, as yet undetermined, Silverbirch Renewables application is reportedly likely to stretch across 8km in an area between Ballydesmond and Gneeveguilla.

The company is seeking planning for 14 turbines which will have a blade tip up to 150m from ground level.

Meanwhile, Redfaze has also applied for a smaller battery storage compound in Co Clare near an electricity substation at Knockalassa, Miltown Malbay.



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