Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has said her party will work at all levels of Government to help communities in Kerry fight the placement of wind turbines beside their homes.
The Ireland South MEP was speaking after she joined TD Martin Ferris and local representative John Buckley for a meeting with members of the Sliabh Luachra Wind Awareness Group.
“Six months ago I visited the Cooke family in Scartaglan and saw first hand the effect wind turbines were having on them,” she said.
“Their home is literally surrounded causing major issues with noise and shadow flicker, leading to hugely debilitating effects on their physical and mental health. It’s appalling and bewildering that they were allowed so close to people’s homes and I am currently investigating in Europe whether or not the proper regulations were followed in that case.
“Now, other nearby communities are battling to save their homes, as yet more wind farms are planned for the area.
“The fear and concern about the planned turbines among local people is palpable. As well as concerns about their physical and mental health there are also fears about the other effects it will have on the area.
“There are a number of protected species living in a special conservation area that is earmarked for development. Families that were planning to move to the area have put plans on hold until they see how it turns out.
“I have heard horror stories of at least one couple looking after their son with autism and other special needs who have been told by their doctor that he will not be able to live there. Of course, they cant afford to sell the house either, as even the prospect of turbines has caused its value to tank.
“Another couple told me that they have basically moved into the basement and that their son has to take sleeping pills at night.
“I will be working with TD Martin Ferris and local Sinn Féin representative Pat Buckley to have this issue raised in Europe, the Dail and Kerry County Council.
“Of course, these issues could all have been avoided. Just last year Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil voted against Sinn Féin’s Wind Turbine Bill, which would have moved turbines back 10 times their height from homes and demanded greater consultation and research to protect communities from noise pollution and shadow flicker.
“Renewable energy infrastructure is crucial for the future but it must be built in consultation with communities. Countries around the world are managing to harness the power of the wind without torturing people yet, typically, in Ireland the approach seems to have been to allow energy companies to run amok.
“Communities in Kerry, and indeed right across the country, are now living with the consequences of their decision to once again sell out rural Ireland.”