Lyreacrompane group fails in its appeal on safety grounds
Cork-based firm Knocknagoum Windfarm Ltd has been given the green light to build a battery storage facility next to the electricity substation at Muingnaminane in the Stacks Mountains.
An Bord Pleanála’s decision last week was on foot of an appeal of Kerry County Council’s decision to give the 10-battery compound the go-ahead that was taken by the Lyreacrompane Heritage Group.
The group’s submission questioned the veracity of the battery technology being used, claiming as it is relatively new and untested that it would present a serious safety risk.
However, planning inspector with An Bord Pleanála Fiona Fair was satisfied that the ‘Fire Authority’ – ie Kerry County Council – had no objection to it on fire safety grounds; and that it would not pose risks greater than any other renewable energy project.
Other concerns voiced by the group in its submission were also addressed by Ms Fair in the course of her inspection and report.
Lyreacrompane Heritage Group described the lithium battery technology which is proposed for the site as ‘new and untested’, claiming that there are ‘many’ instances of fires and explosions associated with the type of unit internationally.
The group also questioned if the Kerry Fire Services would be capable to responding to a situation at the site in the event of a toxic substance being released.
The appeal was also critical of the ‘piecemeal’ nature of the planning application; citing the fact that the same company had sought permission for two battery containers less than five months prior to the appeal, rather than the ten-container plan that was granted by the Council.
Lyreacrompane Heritage Group pointed out that the Stacks Mountains have become ‘overshadowed’ by wind turbines they claim pose a threat to the protected Hen Harrier with too much noise pollution preventing the raptor from hearing its prey, damage the ‘unique carbon sink of blanket bog’.
The inspector said they were satisfied the project is underpinned by national policy governing renewable energy projects. There would be little noise pollution, Ms Fair said: “Based upon the assessment the battery storage units are below typical day and nighttime noise criteria…I do not consider that noise is likely to be a significant issue due to the nature of the development and the remote rural location.”
Ms Fair noted the lack of objection from the Fire Authority but advised the Bord to include a condition ‘requiring that pollution control measures are put in place and adhered to’ if it moved to grant permission.
She also found that the compound would not adversely impact the two Natura 2000 sites most likely to be affected by it.
Among the conditions she recommended were a noise inspection in the event of public complaints; noise monitoring locations during the installation to protect the amenities of the area; that no polluting matter including sediment-laden waters be discharged into the local watershed from the proposed works; that ‘bunds’ should be installed around all temporary oil containment facilities and that a dark green fence surround the site thereafter in the interest of the visual amenity of the area.