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‘It has had a big impact on everybody around here’: Concern over scale of wind farm planned off Connemara

The €1.5 billion development is the first to be built off the western seaboard and is expected to power 350,000 homes

Wind farm proposed for off the coast of Connemara

Opponents of a large offshore wind farm proposed off the Connemara coast in Co Galway have expressed shock at a new photomontage showing how it will look from various onshore locations.

The images of the wind farm on Sceirde Rocks has heightened concerns about “the size and proximity of the turbines to shore and their impacts on sites of historical and scientific importance, tourism and fishing which sustain local communities”, according to a petition set up by local residents.

The nearest of the proposed 30 turbines is due to be 5km away. In the petition, locals claim that the developers Corio intend “recklessly damaging the marine environment”.

The photomontage was released last week on the Corio/Fuinneamh Sceirde Teoranta website, prompting local people to start the petition last Sunday. It had 905 signatories by Friday afternoon.


The €1.5 billion wind farm, the first to be built off the western seaboard, with 450 megawatt capacity is expected to power 350,000 homes. The company is hoping to submit a planning application this year and has committed €3.5 million a year to a community benefit fund totalling €70 million.

The photomontage shows existing views and future look with turbines in place from locations including the Sky Road near Clifden; Connemara Golf Club in Ballyconneely, Gurteen Bay, Mweenish Cemetery, Lettermullan and from Inis Mór, one of the Aran Islands. The images show views of some of the most picturesque parts of south Connemara.

Mark South, who lives in Mweenish near Carna, said local people had an idea “it was going to be bad” visually from looking at maps.

“Seeing the photomontage is a different experience. It has had a big impact on everybody around here, who are shocked at what is being proposed,” he said.

If it was just a visual impact issue, “we would appreciate there is a climate crisis and need more energy from renewables”, he said. “But that has to be done responsibly without damaging the ecosystems we have left.”

There was real concerns about the threat to fish and wildlife, and especially birdlife on nearby uninhabited islands, he said.

Val Freeman of the campaign group Coastal Concern Alliance said the visual impact was horrendous and a consequence of legacy projects not being managed properly by the Government.

“Developers put a pin on the map 25 years ago when the only option was to put them in shallow water,” he said.

There was a concentrated attempt by Government to push developments that were not subject to proper planning and environment assessment, Freeman added. No strategic environmental assessment had been carried out and there was an absence of an ecosystem-based approach.

Elin Payne of Ard Thiar, Carna, said the photomontage was “extremely shocking”.

“They neglected to include a perspective from Mace Pier which is the closest point to iconic St MacDara’s Island – an important and beloved historic site and one which is approximately equidistant between the mainland and the turbines – suggesting the turbines will be an overwhelming presence in relation to this island and [its] ancient Christian church,” she said.

The proposed wind farm involved 325-metre turbines located 5km to 11.5km off this coastline.

The wind farm is “a milestone project for Ireland that will bring much-needed investment and employment opportunities to Connemara, and to the wider Galway region”, said Tim Coffey, project director of Sceirde Rocks wind farm.

“Our plans for the wind farm involve the installation of 30 turbines at a range of 5 to 11.5 km from the mainland. By way of comparison, onshore wind farms such as those currently installed in the Connemara region would require hundreds of turbines to generate the same amount of electricity, while onshore turbines can be located as close as 500m to residential properties, making them appear significantly larger to the naked eye than the turbines proposed at Sceirde Rocks,” he added.

Corio is conducting extensive impact assessments to inform its planning application, which would be made available to the public. A detailed environmental impact assessment report along with a Natura impact statement is being prepared to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times