Cistercian monks in Ireland have joined forces with local farmers to protest at plans to construct a mast and huge windmills in an area of exceptional natural beauty. Fr Eamonn Fitzgerald, abbot of Mount Melleray monastery in County Waterford, has written to the county council to express his community's concerns over the Duke of Devonshire's project. The duke wants wants to erect lines of 210-foot electricity-producing windmills next to the monastery in the Knockmealdown mountains. Planning permission for a monitor mast was granted in January. Opponents plan to lodge an official appeal. The monks, hill farmers, and even some of the local gentry are united in their objections to the project. Mount Melleray is a popular pilgrim site attracting thousands of visitors each year. Campaigners say the windmills' rotating blades will cause noise pollution and destroy the visual beauty of what is one of Ireland's most famous landscapes. Chair of the Knockmealdown Protection Committee said in the Sunday Times this week: "We are opposed to the project because of the visual impact on the area, because of the unknown noise factor and the ecological change that the turbines will bring. We are for renewable energy in the appropriate place." A spokesman for the duke's estate said: "We are positive about this scheme and the good effects of renewable energy. One just has to accept that there will be people for and people against."