By Michelle Crean
East Kerry locals plan to fight against a planned 40 unit battery compound which they say will destroy their community and potentially their health – if built.
Kerry County Council has given the go ahead for Redfaze Limited to build the battery storage site at Ballynahulla, Ballydesmond, which will house 40 battery units, transformers and associated equipment.
Battery storage compounds store excess electricity generated by windfarms when the wind is high – and release it back into the grid when the turbines are slack.
However, up to 300 angry and frustrated locals from the Gneeveguilla, Knocknagree, Scartaglin, Kiskeam and Newmarket areas, met to discuss their concerns in Ballydesmond Community Hall on Wednesday night.
They fear that the batteries are potentially at high risk of going on fire which would lead to an evacuation of a 10 mile radius in the area.
Concerned residents now plan tolodge an appeal against planning permission for the facility on health and safety grounds withAn Bord Pleanala next week.
“There’s disbelief ,” local Anita O’Sullivan told the Killarney Advertiser.
“Longford County Council refused planning for a six battery facility due to a health and safety risk and Kerry County Council granted one that’s five times bigger than that. Words can’t even fathom how planning was granted. We can’t comprehend how they can do it.”
She explained that the battery compound is connected to the wind turbines to help regulate power going onto the grid, but said that locals weren’t even consulted about it.
“The planning application was found by pure luck when a local was out walking,” she said.
“What is the cost to our health? Our community will be destroyed. There’s a high risk the batteries could go on fire creating toxic smoke, and if that happens people within a 10 mile radius have between three and 10 minutes to evacuate the area. It takes 36 hours for a battery to quench itself out if it goes on fire,” she said. “There’s 40 of them – we could be on high alert for weeks or even months. You wonder how a human being can allow this!”