As the construction of turbines nears completion, you really get a sense of being overpowered by these giants, in what has become something akin to an alien landscape.
Currently 22 turbines have been fully erected, with most of the remaining turbine towers in varying stages of construction. On the evening of 14 June 2014, eleven of the turbines were operating. There was a light breeze at ground level, but with obviously enough wind at altitude to turn the rotar blades. Again the noise was clearly audible – I liken it to the drone of a swarm of beetles which I recall from New Zealand. These beetles grow in the ground, then when they reach the adult stage they take flight in great swarms. The sound is at the same time distant and right inside your head, and there is no getting away from it – it is constant and unrelenting. We had to put up with it for only a few hours at a time, but can you imagine that feeling 24 hours a day?
Up until recently the biggest visual impact had been along the western and southern borders of the site. With more turbines having been built the extent of the visual impact has widened greatly, with the houses on the northern and eastern borders of the site now dwarfed by the turbines.
In the past few days I have visited some of the houses closest to the site. It really is an oppressive sight with several turbines towering in the background. Having spoken to a few people living in the shadow of the turbines you really do get the feeling that people were ignored when this development was being planned and built. A complete lack of consultation with locals is evident. People feel cheated in that there appears to have been no effort to make them aware of the scale of the monstrosities, how near they would be to houses and how many would be visible. Some people have also asked what the community gets out of the scheme – nobody I spoke to knew of any locals who had gained employment on the project, or whether there was any community benefit on offer.
There is also concern around sightseers trespassing onto land adjacent to the turbines. This obviously creates annoyance for the residents, and could lead to bigger concerns over safety and security as people start to feel exposed and at risk.
Now we hear that a similar fate is to befall Yellow River near Rhode, Co. Offaly, and Cullenagh in Co. Laois. A cynic could wonder whether the proposed revisions of guidelines for wind energy developments are being delayed so that these developments can get through the planning processes under the existing guidelines.
By Victor Carson