As the closing date for submissions for Lyrenacarriga wind farm approaches on March 5 at An Bord Pleanála (ref PL04. 309121), the local equine industry across West Waterford and East Cork – including such high profile names as Davy and Jerry Russell, along with 55+ breeders and trainers and equine establishments who collectively contribute to what they term 'the Curragh of Munster’, are lodging their objections well in advance of the deadline.
Developers RWE (formerly Innogy) Curns Energy Ltd /Highfield Energy plan to erect 17 x 150m-high industrial wind turbines across a section West Waterford and East Cork – with a large sub-station and battery storage facility on the Youghal water supply.
Blackwater Wind Aware community group chairperson, Patrick Massey says: “As well as health risks and effects to humans and wildlife, the equine industry is also extremely concerned about this windfarm and proximity of these giant turbines. The horse industry contributes more than €1.1 billion annually to the Irish economy and provides jobs in rural areas with little other investment.”
Equestrian consultant, coach and former Irish Olympian John Watson, has a broad knowledge of equestrianism in all its forms. A supporter of rural Ireland and traditional Irish horse breeding, John warns: “While private individuals can take their own chances on horseback, employers have statutory obligations to staff and cannot reasonably send out employees on horses where there is an identifiable risk that a horse might spook, its rider fall off, or cause an injury.
“They might get away with doing so until the first incident, but then it would move from 'presently difficult and expensive', to 'impossible' to get employer liability insurance – so the business and therefore employment would have to fold.”
John Watson works with insurance and legal professionals, writing reports for lawyers dedicated to analysis, clarification, and solutions for any equestrian issue.
“Horse trainers and stud farm owners in their position as significant employers have an obligation to conduct risk assessment studies under Health and Safety Legislation to provide a safe place to work.”
In 2014 the Equestrian Report re Galetech, concluded that the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, the Irish Jockeys’ Association, the Irish Racehorse Trainers’ Association and the Association of Irish Racehorse Owners, warned that wind turbines, if not placed 'at a suitable and appropriate distance' will pose 'a very real risk' that could threaten international investment in the Irish horse industry.
The 2014 submission stated that “the proposed developments will be a significant deterrent to future funding and support from overseas investors, who are integral to the industry”. The trainers said young horses being broken and ridden for the first time are most vulnerable to wind turbine and pylon noise.
“They are very easily spooked by shadow or noise. Internationally, these projects aren’t sited by stud farms or training yards,” said Joe Osbourne, managing director of Kildangan Stud in Kildare.
Waterford horse breeders and trainers, John and Anne Houlihan, are fiercely opposed to the wind farm and hugely concerned about effects on horses.
“I have been breeding sport horses since I used to keep ponies and compete at local gymkhanas and shows, as did my father and grandfather before me. It has been our dream to produce a top show jumper or eventer.
“As I have realised from talking to local horse breeders and stud owners, the vibrations from the spinning turbine blades and infrasound noise affects the horse in the same was as it affects the human. If these turbines go ahead, it will be the end of the racing and sport horse breeding industry in the West Waterford and East Cork areas.”
“This wind farm would affect us in our everyday living as our love of the horse requires us to keep and winter some horses at our home. It will call a stop to our dream and the ability to live a normal and happy life.”
Blackwater Wind Aware community group chairperson, Patrick Massey added: “Our communities are fully aware of climate change and the need to move to renewable energy. We are not against wind energy as part of a balanced mix of renewable technologies.
“We are however against poor planning regulations, outdated guidelines for wind farm developers and a national renewable energy action plan that has never been through a proper cost based analysis.
“Lyrenacarriga Wind Farm would be visible from 45km in all directions and would be seen way beyond the county bounds. It is essentially two wind farms – as one is in Waterford and the other is in Cork.
“It will be situated on a vulnerable rural elevated upland plateau, on an open and exposed landscape, with no land cover or significant features to absorb the scale of the development. There are already three wind farms in the Blackwater Valley and the gentle, scenic, landscape and wildlife and biodiversity levels cannot absorb any more.”
Blackwater Wind Aware is calling on anyone who is opposed to the Lyrenacarriga wind farm PL04. 309121 to make a submission to An Bord Pleanála before March 5.
Their website includes full details of the application, turbine maps and background information www.blackwaterwindaware.com.