It has been revealed that a wind turbine which has caused years of "anguish and distress" for residents in Castlewellan has breached required noise limits at a nearby residential property.
The findings have been issued by the Environmental Health department at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council further to a consultation request from the Planning Office.
The wind turbine off the main Castlewellan to Newcastle road was erected in the latter months of 2013 and it is understood that the turbine sits 90m away from its original site location which was approved by the Planning Service back in 2010. It also stands at 40m from base to nose with the original planning permission granted for a 30m high turbine.
There is a current planning proposal in place received by planning on 30 May 2017 for the turbine to stay in its current location, however, this is being met with objection from concerned residents.
One resident says "no thought has been given for the health and safety of neighbours or visitors to the area" claiming there is a "constant pulsating, humming noise being emitted from the turbine which is having an impact on our health".
Speaking to The Outlook, concerned resident Damien Rice said: "The first application was for a household wind turbine and then it was amended to a 30m turbine. I put through an objection and we got an engineer's report which stated that the turbine was 40m in height and 90m in the wrong place. Basically, it's at the wrong place and at the wrong height." Mr Rice added: "I would have been happy had it been a 30m turbine but it stands 16m higher as the ground rises in its current location. From the original site to where the turbine stands, the ground rises by 6.5m, leaving it in total 17.5m higher than what Planning Service approved.
"And now in the latest string of events it has breached all the noise guidelines set out by ETSU (Energy Technology Support Unit)." Environmental Health assessed the site and confirmed on 20 September that the noise from the wind turbine, including the vibration emitted has the "potential to cause adverse impact".
A major factor that has been troubling residents in the area since the turbine was erected is the noise emitted.
Mr Rice says he has suffered severe headaches and wakes from his sleep due to the noise.
Mr Rice commented: "At night it's the worst. All you can hear is the constant hum and it really has affectedmy sleep. I am woken every night by the noise and I would like to see it taken down. Other neighbours have commented on the disruption too."
Further to a consultation request from the Planning Office, dated 18 September, Environmental Health provided the following comments: "The results of the noise investigation carried out by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council show that the operation of the wind turbine, to which this application relates, is resulting in a breach of the required noise limits under ETSU-R-97 'The Assessment and Rating of Noise from Wind Farms' at a nearby residential property.
"It is the opinion of Environmental Health that the operation of the wind turbine is highly likely to have an adverse impact on the amenity of nearby noise sensitive receptors due to noise." The Outlook offered a right of reply on the turbine and the council comment to the owner of the wind turbine but he does not wish to make any comment.
However, a response was received from the owner's agent, Henry Murray. When asked about the new findings from Environmental Health Mr Murray added that he was "not aware of the findings yet" but he would be "passing the information on to a noise consultant for further investig ation".
Mr Murray added: "We will need to identify at what speed the noise was breached at and look into this matter further." When asked about the turbine being erected in a different location and the current planning proposal to keep the turbine in the location as it stands today, Mr Murray responded that he "couldn't comment on that".
Speaking about the reprieved planning application and Environmental Health's findings concerning the wind turbine, Alliance Councillor Patrick Brown remarked: "I am very concerned about this application and I feel the applicant has not acted in good faith or with due regard and respect to the planning process.
"Whilst I am a firm believer in the importance of wind turbines and renewable energy sources generally, and the benefits they can bring to the environment and the economy, this cannot be at the expense of the law.
"This turbine was constructed in entirely the wrong position, many metres away from where it was initially granted permission. This siting, which is in breach of planning permission, has caused unfair stress and loss of amenity to residents who are now living far closer to a turbine than they should have been.
"There have also been serious concerns raised by Environmental Health around noise and its affect on residents and as it stands I will be objecting to this retrospective planning application."