Wind farm development in Kerry runs into difficulty as locals refuse to allow ESB power lines to cross their land.

At a cost of £12 million, Tursillagh Mountain near Tralee in County Kerry is being transformed into a wind farm. When operational in 2001 it will produce enough energy to power all of Killarney and South Kerry.

The wind farm itself is not contentious however nearby residents and landowners are opposing plans by the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) to erect a 38kV power line to connect the wind farm to the national grid via a station at Ballybeggan, six kilometres away.

Farmer James Walsh of Knockawaddra, Tralee is opposing these plans as he believes the power line devalues property, is dangerous for children and poses a health hazard.

Farmer Liam Walsh is also opposing the ESB proposal and would rather go to jail than allow power lines cross his land.

We’re determined and we don’t mind going to jail if that’s the way it’s going to go.

The Tursillagh wind farm is being developed by Saorgus Limited, a Tralee based company. Mike Barry of Saorgus Energy says compared to conventional power plants, wind farms have a positive effect on the environment.

Wind, it’s there, you see it, that’s it, there’s nothing extra.

EBS customer service engineer Pat Lynch says demand and consumption for electricity is increasing but,

We are finding more and more difficulty in getting new lines and reinforcing existing lines.

The ESB may seek a High Court injunction to allow it erect power lines at Ballybeggan, But Independent Councillor Billy Leen says the local people will remain defiant.

I have no doubt they will stick it out to the bitter end and I will be with them.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 10 February 2000. The reporter is Paschal Sheehy.