A proposed wind farm development will have “catastrophic” consequences for a Co Cork town’s public water supply, according to a health and safety expert.
Tom Morley, a retired mechanical engineer and a member of the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (Nebosh), made the observation at a public meeting in Youghal, hosted by Blackwater Valley Wind Aware.
The group opposes plans by German energy company Innogy, through its subsidiary Innogy Renewables Ireland Ltd and in partnership with Dublin-based Highfield Energy, to construct 25 wind turbines, 150m tall, on a 3,500-acre site at Lyrenecarriga. The site, in Coillte and private ownership, transects the Cork/Waterford border.
Objectors claim the development will negatively affect 274 homes.
Mr Morley warned the project would involve “excavating hundreds of thousands of tons of rock and soil”. He believed the excavations could equate to 40 tons of high tensile reinforcement steel per turbine base, plus over 25,000 tonnes of concrete in total. Over 18,000 tonnes also stand to be extracted for substations and roads.
He said the stockpiled residue would infiltrate underground and overground streams from where water is pumped upwards to an intake filter system at Boola before being dispensed to Youghal’s 8,000-approximate population.
It is a foregone conclusion, he said, that Youghal’s water “will be contaminated, undrinkable, discoloured, silty, and muddy”.
The engineer said the local authority would have to dredge blocked intakes and disinfect the water, resulting in Youghal water having a nasty taste and possibly being suspended “for days on end”.
Mr Morley further predicted that pressurisation on underground streams would raise the levels, flood the water basin, and subsequently contaminate private water wells nearby.
Waterford County Council was refused planning 18 years ago for a landfill facility in the area amid fears it would seep into underground streams.
Blackwater Valley Wind Aware chairman Paddy Massey said when he spoke to Innogy representatives, they “seemed unaware” of the water supply issue.
Meanwhile, Innogy is awaiting an An Bord Pleanála decision on designating the scheme strategic infrastructure development, enabling it to bypass local authority approval and go straight to the board.
The company says it is “engaging with many project stakeholders to identify any risks associated with the project, which will take into account all environmental receptors, including water”. It says further meetings with the local community are planned.
The action group is contesting Waterford council’s executive refusal to amend its 2011 development plan to exclude wind farms at Lyrenecarriga.