Northern Ireland

Ballyhalbert man's home could be 'ringed by wind turbines' if plans approved

A view of the wind turbine in the field
Image caption A "grating, grinding noise" from the wind turbine is affecting Bert Spiers's quality of life, he said

A County Down man has said his home will be ringed by wind turbines if a council approves all the applications it has before it.

Bert Spiers, from Ballyhalbert, will have three in a field behind his house and two others to the side and front if the applications are all passed.

He has told Ards and North Down Borough Council of his opposition due to noise.

The renewable energy industry has said there is a "robust and rigorous" planning process.

It added that that process should take account of people's concerns.

Image caption Bert Spiers told BBC News NI's Conor Macauley that he opposed the turbines on noise grounds

About 1,500 individual turbines have been applied for across Northern Ireland in the last three years.

And there has been a rush of applications this year since an announcement that a subsidy scheme was to close.

Proposed

Mr Spiers lives close to a former RAF airfield at Ballyhalbert.

There is an existing turbine on it that he said is less than 300m from his home. Two others are now proposed in the same field.

A windfarm is any development consisting of more than two turbines.

Image caption There have been about 1,500 applications for individual wind turbines in the last three years

But because each of the proposed new turbines has its own separate application it is not considered a windfarm by planners.

That means a rule that says a wind farm should generally be 500m from the nearest home does not apply.

Mr Spiers said the three in the field behind him would be well within the 500m range and the two others just outside it.

Noise from the existing turbine already impacts his quality of life, he said.

Target

"There's just a grinding, grating noise, and you can't even open the windows at the back of your house because if it's pointing this direction all you get is just a pulse [of noise]," he said.

He is part of a group that is opposing nine separate turbine applications within a one-and-a-half sq mile area near Ballyhalbert.

Image caption Meabh Cormacain said there is a "robust and rigorous planning application process" for wind turbines

Wind turbines are not cheap. Even a second-hand one can cost up to £300,000 to buy, install and connect.

The Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group said turbines are helping Northern Ireland move towards its target of 40% electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Spokeswoman Meabh Cormacain said people had legitimate concerns.

"There's a robust and rigorous planning application process in place, whether it is a single turbine or a large scale wind farm," she said.

"The planning system does take into account the cumulative impacts whether that be from noise, or any other issues."

She added that council environmental health officers could help deal with any problems people might have.

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