Siblings who became ill next to wind farm settle case
Total sum of €225,000 paid following settlement without an admission of liability
Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds was informed on Tuesday that the case had been settled.
Three siblings who claimed they became ill and their family had to leave their Co Cork home as a result of a nearby wind farm have secured €225,000 under a settlement of their High Court damages claims.
The settlements, made without admission of liability and achieved following mediation, were made in cases brought by Laura Kelleher (15) and her brothers David (17) and Jack (10).
The siblings claimed they and their parents had to leave their family home at Gowlane North, Donoughmore, Co Cork, in late 2016 several months after a 10 turbine wind farm went into operation.
They claimed the noise, vibrations and shadow flicker from the turbines, located some 700m from their family farm, resulted in them suffering from various illnesses.
These included nosebleeds, ear aches, skin rashes, swollen and painful hands, loss of power in their limbs, sleep disturbance and headaches.
Through their father Valentine Kelleher, the siblings sued Green Energy Supply, which owns and operates Knockduff Wind Farm in Co Cork.
The actions were also against company director Michael Murnane, of Gortyleahy, Macroom, Co Cork, owner of Green Energy Supply.
The defendants had denied all the claims, including of negligence resulting in the siblings becoming ill.
They also denied that noise, shadow flicker and vibration from the wind farm had intruded on to the family’s farm.
Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds was informed on Tuesday by John Rogers SC, for the Kellehers, the case had been settled.
Liability was not admitted in any of the actions and the medical evidence submitted in support of the Kellehers’ claim was fully contested, he said.
The judge, noting there was dispute over the medical reports and that liability remained in issue, described the settlement offer as “good”.
In their action, the Kellehers sought damages for alleged nuisance and personal injury which they claimed was due to the defendants’ failure to take sufficient precautions to avoid noise, vibration and shadow flicker from the wind farm.
It was further alleged the defendants failed to operate the wind farm in a manner to avoid causing unreasonable levels of noise, vibrations and shadow flicker and had not paid any heed to the complaints.
The plaintiffs claimed the wind farm was operated in a manner that did not respect their family, personal and property rights under the Constitution.
Moved out of home
The Kellehers claimed they started experiencing health problems in and around their family farm from May 2016 and had to move out of their home in November 2016.
After spending some time in a hotel, the family relocated to a property at Ballyglass, Grenagh, Co Cork, eight miles away from their farm. They claimed their symptoms eased after they moved away but returned if they spent any time attending at or assisting on the family farm.
The defendants denied the claims, denied any breach of constitutional rights and said the wind farm was operated in a lawful manner.
On Tuesday, Mr Rogers said the settlement offers, including the ruling of the awards, arose following mediation between the parties conducted by retired Judge Paul Gilligan.
Given the circumstances, especially given the medical evidence was contested, he recommended the settlement offers be approved by the court.
As part of the settlement, Laura, aged 15, whose ailments were more severe when compared with her brothers, was to receive €125,000, he said. David, aged 17 and Jack, aged 10, were to each receive €50,000.