If the project gets the go-ahead, it will mean East Cork is home to the highest on-shore wind turbines in Ireland.
Each of the 11 turbines which form part of the proposed wind farm will measure 156.5 metres, more than 16 metres higher than those at Lisheen Wind Farm in Co Tipperary which, at 140 metres, are currently the tallest in the country.
The wind farm, proposed by Ardglass Windfarm Ltd, will lie between the villages of Dungourney, Castlelyons, Lisgoold and Ballynoe, in an area known locally as Hogan’s Wood on land owned by Coillte and three local landowners.
Ardglass Wind Turbine Awareness Action Group, comprised of local residents opposed to the project, are worried the turbines will have impact on health and property prices. Spokesperson and architect Stephen Doyle said the turbines will be within three-and-a-half kilometres of 323 homes. He listed among their concerns:
* The visual impact: Mr Doyle said the turbines will be visible from Fermoy and Glanmire.
* The noise impact: including blade “swish” and a low frequency noise, the effects of which are disputed. Mr Doyle said they are concerned the noise will cause sleep disturbance, nausea and headaches, as per a report in the British Medical Journal in March this year.
* Shadow flicker: occurs where the blades of a wind turbine cast a shadow over a window in a nearby house and the rotation of the blades causes the shadow to flick on and off.
Mr Doyle compared this “like the light in a room being constantly turned on and off”.
He questioned the ability of the project to create local jobs, arguing that specialists are brought in from abroad to construct the turbines. He also questioned the reliability of wind energy — supply is intermittent and back-up generation is required when the wind isn’t blowing.
Mr Doyle said this detracts from the argument that green energy is cleaner because back-up power is inevitably generated by fossil fuels.
A statement from Ardglass Windfarm Ltd, an associated company of Lissarda-based Enerco Energy Ltd, said that in developing their proposal “extensive studies of the wildlife in the area, archaeology, hydrology and every aspect has been undertaken to compile a comprehensive environmental impact assessment”. The statement said the company had held a public open evening in Castlelyons which was “well attended”.
The company confirmed it is to lodge a formal planning application with Cork County Council. They also said they would be “glad to deal with any particular issues individual house owners in the area may have”.
The use of renewable energy avoided the emission of about 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2011, according to a presentation made this week to the joint committee on Transport and Communications by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. The SEAI also said the use of wind energy in 2011 in Ireland is estimated to have reduced fuel imports by about €300m.