Following on from two community meetings held in Scartaglin Heritage Centre over the past couple of months, over 1,500 submissions were lodged with Kerry County Council regarding the wind energy zoning proposals for the region in the current draft of the Kerry County Development Plan.
The Scartaglin Wind Awareness Group issued an update on its position and this includes a synopsis of the comments and submissions made – as follows:
Visual Sensitivity of Turbines
Some of the concerns on the submissions included: The proximity of houses in the region to prospective wind energy development zoned regions; The visual sensitivity of wind turbines on the region; The noise and shadow flicker that can be created by wind turbines; The destruction of flora and fauna in the locality; The damage to local roads and infrastructure by heavy machinery; The prevalence of peat and marsh land in the region and its unsuitability for large scale wind energy development sites; The destruction of water and carbon reservoirs across the locality and the detrimental impact the construction and operation of wind energy projects, would have on protected wildlife in the region including the Hen Harrier, the Kerry Slug, the Pearl Mussel and the the liverwort species Pallavicinia lyellii.
Comments on the Proposals:
It is imperative a two kilometre buffer zone, increased from 250m proposal in the current County Development Plan Draft
The Hen Harrier must be included in the County Development Plan around specific conservation areas which are clearly marked in the SPA Habitat Map.
This proposal would be in line with recommendations highlighted within numerous recent An Bord Pleanala reports regarding the appropriate protection of the Hen Harrier nesting and foraging lands within proposed wind energy development sites.
This would also ensure the required protection and conservation of the Hen Harrier and subsequent lands dedicated to these creatures, which are protected under European Law.
Specific Zoning for purpose of Re-powering and should not be included for any region within the County Development Plan until clear, transparent, up to date guidelines are ratified into Law by the Oireachtas.
The only current enforceable guidelines are completely outdated as in the Wind Energy Development Guidelines, 2006 and not fit for purpose due to the development of the modern on-shore turbine, which can now reach heights of over 200m.
There are more recent Draft Guidelines in the Wind Energy Development Guidelines, 2019 referenced within the current draft of the County Development Plan.
These guidelines, however, have not been fully ratified into law by the Government.
Wind Energy Development Zoning for potential Wind Farms needs to be a transparent process, which involves the local communities they affect at every stage.
Zoning for wind energy development within residential communities without the availability of up to date, clear enforceable guidelines is destroying communities.
Our County Council, national and local representatives need to protect their constituents, the wildlife and the flora and fauna of our beautiful county and not allow the further zoning of lands for wind energy until the appropriate up to date guidelines are ratified into law.
European Directives Awareness
It is imperative that everyone is aware of the European Directives regarding the protection and conservation of the SACs and SPAs as outlined in their respective European Charters and Directives.
These areas are clearly marked out in the SPA Habitat Maps and SAC Maps. Adhering and complying with the guidance surrounding these areas is critical to ensure we can maintain biodiversity in these crucial regions and protect our wildlife and environment during these challenging times.
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