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The controversial wind turbine near the village of Parteen. Photograph by John Kelly

Turbine operators claim noise is below recommended levels

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THE predicted noise levels for a controversial wind turbine in Parteen are below the maximum recommended day and night time levels set out in the 2006 Wind Energy guidelines, according to new planning documents.

An Enforcement Notice issued by Clare County Council on March 8, 2021 requested Limerick Blow Moulding to decommission and remove a wind turbine erected near the factory on or before Thursday, April 8, 2021 following an alleged breach of a planning permission condition.

However, this wind turbine, which has attracted numerous planning objections from residents, two Clare deputies Cathal Crowe and Violet-Anne Wynne and Senator Timmy Dooley, is still in situ albeit not operational.

The company recently applied for retention permission for a revised site boundary and revised position of a single 800 KW wind turbine, 73 metres high to hub height, as granted under previous planning permissions at Gortatogher, Parteen.

Employing 70 people, with more than half living in Parteen, Clonlara and Killaloe, Limerick Blow Moulding manufacture food packaging for the Irish Dairy industry, and pharmaceutical packaging for export into the UK and Europe.

In its request for Further Information, the local planning authority asked the company to provide a shadow flicker assessment report prepared by a suitably qualified person, which demonstrates the maximum potential shadow flicker arising from the proposed turbine on the sensitive receptors in the environs of the site.

The authority advised that this assessment should outline the timing and duration of the shadow flicker on these receptors, and to outline how any potential exceedances of the thresholds as set out in the Wind Energy Guidelines would be managed by the turbine apparatus and associated software.

The council also requested an operational phase noise impact assessment report prepared by a suitably qualified person, which includes details of the maximum noise levels that would be generated by the operational wind turbine.

The company also has to submit the noise levels that would result at the sensitive receptors in the environs of the site under the range of weather conditions and wind speeds where the turbine would remain operational as well as details of any noise monitoring, which may have been carried out while the turbine was operational.

The planning authority requested details of any mitigation measures, which may be required to ensure compliance with the maximum day and night noise thresholds as set out in the Wind Energy Guidelines.

In a submission on behalf of the company, Brendan McGrath and Associates provided a Shadow Flicker Assessment Report by MKO Planning and Environmental Consultants and a Turbine Noise Assessment by Irwin Carr Consulting.

“Table 8 of Irwin Carr sets out the range of predicted noise levels. The 2006 guidelines require that the turbine noise should not be more than 5dB above measured quiet daytime background noise levels or more than 5dB above measured night time levels.

“Existing noise was measured at two monitoring points from June 9 to July 14, 2022.

“In general, existing noise levels at night time and one ‘quiet’ days were found to be higher than the predicted turbine noise, refer to Table Three to Six of Irwin Carr.”

Stating the turbine has never been operational, Mr McGrath pointed out the need for mitigation doesn’t arise as the predicted noise levels are below the maximum recommended day and night time levels set out in the 2006 Wind Energy guidelines.

Seamus Madden, c/o Limerick Blow Moulding, was granted planning permission to erect a single 800kW wind turbine, 73 meters high with a rotor diameter of 53 meters, and with ancillary road access at Knockballynameath, Parteen on May 28 2010, subject to 12 planning conditions.

Before planning permission expired, an application for an extension of time was submitted by the applicant and this was granted on January 26, 2016, extending planning permission until 2021.

In a submission to the planning authority, MKO Planning and Environmental Consultants recalled the council received a number of submissions objecting to the development, which was constructed on February 13, 2021.

On March 2, 2021, a council survey found the wind turbine was built about 37 metres to the north-east of the location that had been granted planning permission.

In his written submission supporting this application on behalf of management and staff of Limerick Blow Moulding, factory manager, Mark Stanton, outlined the war in Ukraine had transformed their wind turbine project from a key advantage into a necessity for survival.

A submission from the Irish Aviation Authority stated a detail Radar Impact Assessment is required due to its proximity to Woodcock Hill Radar.

In a follow-up submission to his previous objection, Parteen resident Henry O’Boyle asked how it is possible to apply for planning retention in a location where the council has issued a removal notice.

“Does this mean that this option is open to everyone should they blatantly breach planning permission guidelines? If so, it makes a farce of planning permission.

“May I also ask the question concerning penalties; will the council follow up on fines for the refusal of the developer to remove this illegal wind turbine?

“Reading the additional information, I would like to draw your attention to a basic error in the introduction by Irwin Carr – they claim that they assessed the noise impact on the site in Parteen, Limerick.

“This basic error must question the report and its assumptions. They may claim this is a simple error, but are there more errors in the report that a layman may not understand? Will the council carry out their own due diligence?

“As he who pays the piper can call the tune favouring themselves, we as a community do not have the financial backing that the developer has, therefore we depend on your expertise and support,” he stated.

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