A design image showing some of the wind turbines being proposed in the Moyvougley area. According to the developer, this view is from a local road in Baskin High, Drumraney, around 881 metres from the nearest turbine.

Residents air concerns about plan for 185-metre wind turbines

Some of the residents living near a planned windfarm in the Moyvoughley area of South Westmeath have expressed concerns about aspects of the project, including the 185-metre tip height of the nine proposed turbines.

Enerco Energy is behind the proposed Umma More Renewable Energy Development, which centres on an area between Moyvoughley and Drumraney, about 3km from the village of Ballymore.

In addition to the nine proposed turbines, the project would include a grid connection from the wind farm to the Thornsberry 110kV substation, near Tullamore.

Public information sessions on the development were held last week, in Rosemount GAA Hall on Wednesday and in the Bridge House Hotel, Tullamore, on Thursday.

Residents within two kilometres of the proposed turbines have been contacted in relation to the project, including Stephen Rooney, who lives just inside the 2km threshold in Ballymore.

Speaking to the Westmeath Independent on Monday, Mr Rooney said photo montages which were presented at the public information sessions last week, and on the project website, did not show what the wind turbines would look like from his home or from Ballymore village.

"On the website, it says that (the wind farm) is seven kilometres from Moate, but it doesn't say anything about how close it is to Ballymore," he commented.

He said he didn't understand why a wind farm was being developed on relatively low-lying land.

"To me, the location doesn't make sense. You don't have the wind there that you would have offshore, or on the bogs, or anything like that," he said.

Mr Rooney also highlighted the height of the proposed turbines. According to the plans, the turbines would have a hub height of 103.5 metres, a rotor diameter of 163 metres, and a tip height of 185 metres.

This tip height was "higher than the Spire in Dublin," he pointed out. He also raised questions about whether the project might impact on a bid to have the Hill of Uisneach, billed as 'The Sacred Centre of Ireland', designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Another resident within 2km of the proposed turbines, Katie O'Rourke of Ballynacorra, felt the project would change the character of this rural area.

"The area where the turbines are being set is fully-rural Ireland. You can't see anything but trees and fields, and this is going to turn rural Ireland into an industrial estate, which I think is sad," she said.

Ms O'Rourke also said that Ballymore National School fell just outside the 2km radius for direct consultation.

"I think it should be a bigger (consultation) radius with these bigger turbines, so that more people will know what's going on before they are built," she said.

James Crowley of Enerco Energy, who is the Community Liaison Officer for the wind farm project, said last week's information sessions had attracted "a reasonable turnout" in Rosemount, and a smaller turnout in Tullamore.

Some opponents of the project suggested that last week's event in Westmeath should have been held in the communities directly affected, rather than in Rosemount.

When this was put to Mr Crowley, he said the project representatives had called to all properties within the 2km radius in May.

"In early to mid-May we called around to all properties within a 2 kilometre distance of the proposed turbine locations, and along the cable route.

"In the letter we noted that in the coming weeks we intended to hold a public information evening where information about the project would be on display for all interested parties to view, and project representatives would be there to answer any project-specific questions people had.

"A number of people contacted us about different venues (for the information evening), and the majority that contacted us mentioned Rosemount, so that's why we picked Rosemount as a venue," he said.

Earlier this year, an application was made to An Bord Pleanála which will determine whether or not the wind farm proposal can be considered a strategic infrastructure development.

A decision on that application is due to be made by August 17, and Mr Crowley said he expected that a planning application would then follow "within a matter of weeks or months" of the An Bord Pleanála decision.

He added that anyone who was unable to attend the information sessions last week could access the information on the project's website, at: ummamoreinfo.com or could contact him for an information pack at: ummamoreclo@turnkeydev.com