"It's a disaster": Family affected by windfarm's turbine flicker

The family say it makes day-to-day life difficult.

DEREK BYRNE AND his family live around 330 metres from wind turbines, and say that a ‘flicker’ from energy-generating machines is causing them major problems.

They live near the wind farm in Athea in Co Limerick, and the turbines can be seen from their front window.

The wind farm was erected in August 2013, and Byrne said that they’ve been experiencing the flicker since soon after the turbines appeared.

Why it happens

The flicker occurs because when the sun is low and shining from behind the turbine, the blades block some of the light briefly.

They experience the flicker in the whole house, said Byrne, who lives there with his wife and children.

“Even if you’re in a room with closed blinds. The whole house flickers black. It’s every two seconds for about 20 minutes.”

“When the sun is low at both stages during the day the flicker is at its most prominent.”

Byrne said he has been in touch with SSE Airtricity since December 2013, and that they have told him that there is usually a programme to stop the turbines when the flicker occurs.

“After numerous complaints there is still the flicker,” he said.

Like an “airport apron”

The family have also been experiencing noise due to the turbines, with Byrne saying it is akin to “an airport apron at night time”.

He said the noise is obvious “even with all the windows closed and the TV turned up”.

Every morning I arrive home at 7.30am and it’s like arriving into Shannon airport. It is very unpleasant.

Byrne said there are four houses in the area directly affected by the turbines. “Over the Christmas period it was at its worst,” he said. “It’s been a disaster, absolutely a disaster.”

It lasts longer in the winter months, and can happen up to three times a day.

Were they warned about it? “No we weren’t warned anything about the nearest turbine to us,” said Byrne.

“We were informed about six months before it went up,” he said of the wind farm, adding: “We’re not against wind energy or renewable energy.”

“I’m blessed I work night shifts,” he concluded. “It’s very unfair on the children.”

What does Airtricity have to say?

The electricity from the wind farm is generated by Airtricity, but SSE Renewables built the Athea project.

A spokesperson for SSE Renewables said:

We are aware that some residents living close to our Athea wind farm in Co Limerick are experiencing some intermittent issues with shadow flicker.We are investigating the cause of these issues and we’re working hard to resolve them as quickly as possible. We recognise the impact these issues are having on the residents concerned and while we work on putting in place a permanent solution to resolve these issues we continue to maintain regular contact with them.

Of the noise, it added:

“We are also working to implement a noise control system at the site. We will utilise this system to ensure that all turbines at the wind farm continue to operate at industry guideline limits.”

Read: A twenty-five metre wind turbine blade has fallen to the ground>

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