Zero communications with local residents, concern for peoples’ health due to noise, shadow flicker and the massive size of the turbines, as well as disturbance of local water sources and failure to carry out a base-line survey of the state of health of local residents prior to commencement of construction were amongst many topics raised at a lively meeting attended by over 50 angry residents of the Ballycoog area on Monday evening.
Speaker after speaker were trenchant in their criticism of the abysmal communications failure by Coillte and ESB, the two State-owned companies responsible for developing the Raheenleagh Wind farm. Assertions by Noel Gallagher, Community Liaison Officer for the project, that extensive contact had been made with residents prior to the application for planning permission and in advance of comencement of construction were strenuously denied. In particular the claim that a newsletter was distributed to every household in May 2015 was false, as the vast majority of residents had not received the communication.
Mr Gallagher and the Coillte representative Tom Downes apologised for their organisations’ unsatisfactory performance to date and assured those attending that from now on they would always be ready to meet either with individuals or the community as a whole whenever issues arise, during both construction and operational phases of the project.
Charlie Kavanagh pointed out that infra sound and ground vibrations are well known consequences of wind turbine developments throughout the world and that there are many well documented cases of individuals who have autism or epilepsy issues being adversely affected nby them. When asked if as part of ther planning process a base-line study of the state of health of individuals in the community had been carried out or if any contact had been made with the local school to identify if any pupils had such issues, Mr Gallagher said that neither task had been undertaken. He acknowledged that there is still time before commencement of the operational phase of the project commences to carry out such research and undertook to see if it could be done.
Assurances were also given that any health or other issues which individuals might raise in the future would be pro-actively addressed with a view to having them resolved, including in the case of Shadow flicker disurbance, temporarily switching off turbines.
The lively two and a half hour meeting was brought to a close by Chairman Jack Lynch who thanked everyone for their attendance, including Noel and Tom the two representatives of the project developers, local public representatives, councillors Miriam Murphy and Pat Kennedy and Margaret Heavey, who represented Deputy Anne Ferris.