‘Why damage the natural environment of an area that helps capture carbon?’

How can a wind farm be developed on lands that were acquired for peat extraction only? Why are we damaging the natural environment of an area that helps capture carbon?

These were the questions posed to an oral hearing by An Bord Pleanála into the development of a wind farm in Co. Longford which heard last week that wind energy – on its own – is “not the answer” to Ireland’s decarbonisation effort.

Niall Dennigan – in his presentation to the planning authority – asked those questions and also pointed to the fact that when Bord na Móna was established it acquired the bogs in south Co. Longford for ‘turbary rights’ only.

Dennigan was speaking on behalf of the ‘No to Derryadd Wind Farm’ group which is vehemently opposed to the wind farm development by Bord na Móna Powergen close to Lanesboro.

The company is seeking permission to develop the wind farm – and all associated infrastructure – comprising 24 wind turbines, nine of which will be located in Derryrogue Bog; eight in Derryadd Bog; and seven at Lough Bannow Bog – in south Co. Longford.

The hearing was also told that the turbines will have a maximum blade tip height of 185m and that an electrical substation – including battery storage comprising eight containerised modules – is also proposed for construction at one of two locations on the site.

‘Loss of perspective’

Meanwhile, Dennigan told those gathered that as a direct result of the turbary rights situation, he failed to comprehend how the company could endeavour to progress with wind energy on lands that had been “acquired for the purpose of peat extraction only”.

There is a loss of perspective in this country when developers try to reduce our carbon emissions through the implementation of renewable energy alone.

He continued: “As this proposed wind farm depicts it’s very much a case of one step forward and two steps back.

“There is an eagerness to damage the very natural environmental ability of an area that helps capture carbon such as this, to achieve renewable targets, while at the same time threatening habitats and wildlife and restricting biodiversity.

“Everything in this world has its place and a wind farm in an area like ours is not one of them.”

‘Heights, storage and implications’

The ‘No to Derryadd Wind Farm’ group’s spokesperson also pointed out that nobody in the community was aware that the actual height of the wind turbines – at planning application stage – would be 185m in height.

He said everyone was led to believe that the height of the turbines in the wind farm would stand at 170m tall.

Not one word was mentioned about wind turbines at a height of 185m, erection of masts or indeed of any form of battery storage.

Dennigan continued: “The only thing that was ever mentioned and what the community was aware of was 28 wind turbines at 170m high.

“No public consultation has taken place on this proposed wind farm development and battery storage was never even mentioned until witnessed on the planning application.

“This is a serious concern given the known fire implications from battery storage and fumes that can be produced as an occurrence of a potential fire.”

‘Too close for comfort’

The hearing then heard that the battery storage facility was planned for just 1km from the local primary school and in close proximity to residential areas.

Bord na Móna Powergen has provided no emergency evacuation procedure in its application to such a potential catastrophe taking place.

“It has not clearly stated how it intends to recycle the turbine blades upon decommissioning along with the concrete foundations and all ancillaries.

“Neither can we find any information as to CE markings on all materials used throughout the wind farm,” Dennigan concluded.