Most people in Leitrim realise the importance of cutting carbon emissions, reducing our energy usage and creating clean, sustainable, renewable, energy sources.
However, wind farm developers are displaying an unfair preference for Leitrim as a location for even more wind turbines, according to Adrienne Diamond, Leitrim Wind Industry Awareness which aims to inform people of the issues associated with large industrial wind turbine developments.
In addition, these planned turbines are giants, standing up to 185 m tall. To date only four such turbines are in operation in Ireland, (Meenwaun wind farm, Co Offaly)
In the area from Arigna to Drumkeerin there are over 100 smaller turbines, ranging in height from 50 - 100 m tall. Developers now plan to add an additional 44 large scale wind turbines within a small area of North Leitrim. These turbines, if allowed to proceed, would dominate the skyline on the beautiful North Leitrim landscape.
The North Leitrim landscape is still relatively unspoiled despite the current level of industrial turbines. However, if these additional giant turbines are allowed, that will change.
There are so many concerns around this issue: loss of valuable biodiversity, the risk of landslides, the release of carbon due to the damage to peatland, the efficiency of wind energy. Currently turbines are only 33% effective in producing electricity, according to the wind industry. This figure does not take into account problems around storage and transportation of the electricity through the National Grid.
Even the wind energy industry itself sees the national grid as a major problem. Noel Cunniffe of Wind Energy Ireland said the level of investment in the electricity grid is “the single biggest barrier to de-carbonising our entire energy system.”
Also the lack of full life cycle analysis of the carbon cost of onshore wind generation leaves serious questions unanswered.
Due to the extraordinary height and the locations of the planned turbines, tourism could also be at risk. The majority of visitors come to Leitrim to spend time in the outdoors.
Tourism operators in the area feel that industrial-scale wind developments will seriously impinge on the nature of the landscape and, as a consequence, on tourism numbers in the area.
One such planning application, the proposed Tullynamoyle wind farm near Drumkeeran, is currently awaiting a decision from Leitrim County Council.
A specific concern regarding this industrial wind farm development is that the proposed site is in close proximity to the environmentally devastating Shass Mountain landslide which happened in 2020.
Independent TD Marian Harkin, who is part of a working group that was set up after the landslide, said it would be the essence of bad planning to permit these wind farms before the cause of that landslide was established.
Siting wind turbines on peatland sites was only asking for trouble: “It is critically important that we learn from these events, whether it be forestry or wind farms in the wrong places.”
Also, it is especially alarming to realise that this proposed site is a designated ‘Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ in the County’s development plan 2015-2021. Why do we have a County development plan if it is not adhered to?
In addition, the Boleybrack Mountain ‘Special Area of Conservation’ is directly adjacent to the wind farm site. Boleybrack SAC is home to several nesting hen harriers, it is a European protected area of rich biodiversity.
Meanwhile, only 10km away, Wind Aware Dromahair Community group continues its strong campaigning to stop the proposed Croagh Wind Farm.
This proposed development by Coillte consists of 10 turbines, each 170 m tall and would dwarf the adjacent Garvagh Glebe wind farm. Local people have battled at council level to prevent it’s development and now the planning application is with with An Bord Pleanála in Dublin. Recent correspondence from ABP states the decision has been delayed.
Consider the following:
• our peatlands are susceptible to landslides,
• they are valuable carbon sinks when left undisturbed,
• industrial wind farm construction would destroy an existing rich biodiverse landscape and potentially destroy our developing tourism industry. • Leitrim already produces 64% of its electricity consumption from wind energy*.
We have our fair share of wind turbines and now it is time to protect Lovely Leitrim.
*GEAI, 2019 Leitrim Croga Report
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