Monday 22 December 2008

Stacks windfarm project to be subject of EU investigation

THE EU Environment Commission is to investigate a windfarm development in the Stacks mountains which was at the centre of concerns after a bog slide during heaving rainfall in August.

The commission said it was carrying out the investigation into the Co Kerry development because it appeared "the lessons of Derybrien" in Co Galway, where a major bog slide occurred in 2003, had not been learnt.

Local residents in the Stacks mountains wrote to environment commissioner Stavros Dimas in October to say they were deeply concerned with the manner in which the windfarm at Ballincollig Hill, near Tralee, was being constructed on sensitive bog and to ask that work - which resumed recently - be stopped. The residents said "large tracts of beautiful boglands and rivers" had being damaged in the slide and the nest of a hen harrier, hares and other wildlife disturbed.

Georges Kremlis, head of the commission's environment directorate, has now replied to say wind energy forms part of the EU's commitments to renewable energy but member states must ensure projects likely to have significant effects on the environment are fully assessed.

The Stacks mountain area was proposed by the Irish authorities as a special protection area for the conservation of wild birds.

"[We] will investigate this matter with the Irish authorities to establish if the development in the Stacks mountains is consistent with EC nature and environmental impact assessment legislation," Mr Kremlis said.

Large sections of mountains are zoned for windfarm development in the Kerry county development plan. The August bogslide led to road blockages, some houses being cut off and threats to water supplies. The turf choked a spawning area for salmon and trout, killed eels and brown trout.

Kerry County Council confirmed in recent weeks work has recommenced on the eight-turbine windfarm by Tra Investments Ltd, Tralee, a subsidiary of Lee Strand co-operative.

A council spokesman said the works were not in the precise area of the slide and the windfarm had planning permission. After the landslide, Tra stopped work and employed consultants to carry out a study into the causes of the slide.

Irish Times

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