Meeting hears Kerry already has its share of wind turbines

Kerry already has its share of wind turbines.

That was the message from the majority of councillors at the monthly meeting of Kerry County Council.

The local authority is currently preparing a submission on the revised draft national wind energy development guidelines as part of the public consultation process.

Almost a fifth of all of the wind turbines in Ireland are located in Kerry; there are 350 turbines constructed and another 41 granted planning permission.

The majority of councillors said the county is at saturation point for turbines and the rest of the country needs to step up; there were also calls for offshore wind farms to be explored.

Cllr Michael Foley said there are 21 wind turbines in Ballylongford with permission recently granted for six more; he said the area is surrounded by turbines and they have enough.

He said the community has been divided, the landscape has been destroyed, people can’t sleep due to noise and flicker and local roads have been damaged.

He said the landscape character assessment voted in by councillors in 2012 has destroyed north Kerry.

Cllr Donal Grady said the council has previously refused planning for wind turbines only for it to be overturned by An Bord Pleanala; he called for the body to be abolished or have an enquiry into it.

The council said the role of An Bord Pleanala must be respected even if it doesn’t always agree with its decisions.

Cllr Aoife Thornton said roads are being torn apart and development levies for windfarms need to be increased.

Cllr Johnny Healy-Rae warned against a total ban on more turbines saying certain parts of the county are suitable locations for turbines and these can also provide an income for farm families.

Kerry County Council says it is keen to outline in its submission the role that the landscape plays in the local economy and that consideration needs to be given to locations along the Wild Atlantic Way.

It was agreed that the submission would call for a minimum set back distances from houses of between seven and ten times the blade height of the turbine.

The council said it would be reviewing its wind energy policy as part of the county development plan review in April.