Res­i­dents op­pose West Cork wind­farm plan

Irish Examiner - - County On The Rise - Pet O’Con­nell

Fears of po­ten­tial fire and toxic smoke haz­ards at a bat­tery stor­age fa­cil­ity have prompted a com­mu­nity pe­ti­tion against a wind­farm planned for a scenic area near Gougane Barra.

Win­gleaf Ltd is seek­ing per­mis­sion for a seven-tur­bine wind­farm, elec­tric­ity sub­sta­tion, and bat­tery stor­age con­tain­ers at Cur­ra­glass, close to the Pass of Keimaneigh.

A pe­ti­tion has been in­sti­gated by the vil­lage de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee in Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaid­h, 5.5km from the pro­posed wind­farm.

Win­gleaf is an af­fil­i­ate com­pany of Lis­sarda-based En­erco En­ergy and its di­rec­tors are Michael and David Mur­nane. The com­pany has ap­plied for per­mis­sion for the 30-year op­er­a­tional life of the wind­farm, with seven tur­bines of a blade height of up to 178.5 me­tres. A 38kV elec­tric­ity sub­sta­tion is planned, along with four bat­tery stor­age con­tain­ers and a mast of up to 112 me­tres.

The pe­ti­tion high­lights fears about the height of the pro­posed wind­farm and the bat­tery stor­age con­tain­ers which, it is claimed, “will in­evitably bring the po­ten­tial risk of fire and toxic smoke down­wind”.

De­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee mem­ber Tim Twomey said of the ap­pli­ca­tion: “I have a real con­cern about safety. There’s noth­ing about how long a bat­tery can burn be­fore it burns through the stor­age cas­ing, or what fumes are likely to be emit­ted.”

Tadhg Ó Duin­nín, chair­per­son of the de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee, said the Gaeltacht vil­lage was en­cir­cled by wind­farms “in a 360 de­gree ra­dius around us”.

“We’re ab­so­lutely sur­rounded by them,” he said.

“This com­mu­nity has had to take more than its fair share of them and we haven’t had any say in it.”

Mr Ó Duin­nín also ques­tioned the level of fund­ing al­lo­cated to the lo­cal­ity un­der wind­farm com­mu­nity funds, de­scrib­ing it as a “pit­tance” rel­a­tive to wind en­ergy prof­its.

Pa­trick McMor­rough of En­erco En­ergy said an­nual com­mu­nity fund­ing of €60,000 was planned dur­ing the op­er­a­tion of the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment, to be ad­min­is­tered “in ac­cor­dance with the wishes of those clos­est to the de­vel­op­ment lo­cally”.

Mr McMor­rough said: “We would wel­come the op­por­tu­nity to meet with mem­bers of Coiste For­bartha Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaid­h to dis­cuss the Cur­ra­glass pro­posal with them. We have main­tained com­mu­ni­ca­tion with all res­i­dents within 2km of the pro­posed Cur­ra­glass de­vel­op­ment and we had in­tended to hold a pub­lic in­for­ma­tion evening at a lo­cal venue, how­ever due to Covid-19 re­stric­tions this has not been pos­si­ble.”

He con­tin­ued: “Devel­op­ments of this na­ture must ad­here to strict safety guide­lines and there­fore haz­ards are not en­vis­aged. Re­mote mon­i­tor­ing will en­sure that stan­dard op­er­a­tional con­di­tions are main­tained.

“The pro­posed tur­bines will not be the tallest tur­bines in Ire­land — there are taller tur­bines al­ready per­mit­ted.”

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