Clean, green and efficient – wind energy is a key part of Ireland’s strategy to phase out our reliance on fossil based fuels. Under international obligations, this country is committed to producing 70% of its electricity usage from renewables by 2020.
Wind farms are operating in a variety of locations around the country and presently Brookfield Renewable Ireland in partnership with Coillte, are plannning to construct 22 wind turbines in the Bottlehill/Glenasack area of county Cork.
Branded as Coom Green Energy Park, promoters of the scheme say that when fully operational, wind from the farm will prevent over 100,000 tonnes of carbon (per annum) from entering the atmosphere. Backers of the project say they’ve gone through an elaborate planning process and that at all stages, the public have been consulted.
Despite reassurances, a significant number of people who reside close to where it’s proposed to build the turbines, are not convinced.
Members of this group include residents of Glenville, Killavullen, Carraig na bhFear, Mourneabbey, Whitechurch and Grenagh.
They were in the Holy Family Centre, Glenville last week to voice their outright opposition to the planned facility. Spokesperson Kevin Creedon, say they weren’t taken in by Brookfield’s and Coillte’s sophisticated PR machine.
“At face value, what’s going on here this evening looks good but we’ve learned from experience that it’s a tactic to win over people. From what we’ve found out ourselves to date, we’ve no faith in this project as this company have no interest in answering the very serious questions we’ve put to them.”
Kevin went on to say that local people have massive concerns about the turbines proximity to dwellings, the long term health implications, issues relating to noise from the turbines and the environmental impact of such developments in rural Ireland.
Kevin and his supporters arrived together at last Thursday night’s public information session. Once inside the building they requested that those hosting the event address them as a collective and answer in detail the questions they had.
Gemma Hamilton from Brookfield Renewable Ireland said their public information sessions had a format whereby individuals were invited to deal one-to-one with experts in a variety of fields (noise levels, environmental impact etc.) and it wasn’t appropriate to deviate from this format.
Kieran O’Malley, representing Coillte, said that public engagement formed a key part of the planning process and that both Coillte and Brookfield had fulfilled these obligations.
With no consensus, those opposing the project remained seated in one portion of the building while Brookfield and Coillte representatives continued to man their information stands.
The group opposing the Coom Green Energy Park were addressed by Green Party councillor, Alan O’Connor. The only other public representative in attendance was Cllr Frank Roche. Frank said he had a lot of sympathy for residents and was standing with them in their campaign.
“Regrettably, there’s no trust between the two groups and the whole thing has got very bitter,” Frank told The Avondhu.
Information sessions held
A statement from those behind the project pointed out that public information sessions were held at Mourneabbey Community Centre on Tuesday, October 8 and at the Holy Family Centre, Glenville on Thursday, October 10.
“Both events were advertised in local newspapers on October 3rd and local community groups were invited to attend. Members of the project team and several technical experts working on the project had project material on display and were available to answer associated questions at the event.”
The statement also stated that the Coom Green Energy project is being designed to ‘the highest planning and environmental standards’.
“The project will create a significant, long-term community benefit fund for the local area in line with the draft Renewable Energy Support Scheme. The planning application is expected to be submitted at the end of October.
Additional project information is available at www.coomgreenenergy.com”