Bill would keep wind farms far from homes

 

THE OIREACHTAS is to consider in detail shortly a Bill, tabled by Labour Senator John Kelly, that would impose restrictions on the location of wind turbines near people’s homes.

Under the Bill, which has received support from all sides in the Seanad, smaller turbines would have to be placed more than 500 metres from a residence while larger turbines of 50m-150m would have to be a minimum of 1km to 2km away.

“At present, the distance is 500 metres, a figure that has been in place for a number of years during which wind turbines have become taller,” said Mr Kelly, who is based in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon. “Some turbines on wind farms are as tall as the Spire on O’Connell Street.”

He noted that authorities in Britain were moving in the same direction as his proposals. “In the House of Lords, there is a Bill on committee stage along the same lines as my Bill, except that the distances proposed are even further from private residences.”

Mr Kelly said there was widespread support for his measure. “The amount of people that have made contact with me has amazed me, and all of them know that this is their only hope of avoiding living beside a wind farm development for the rest of their lives.”

Minister of State for Planning Jan O’Sullivan said legislators needed to “consider the practicality of introducing binding legislation” in this area rather than guidelines for wind turbine locations. However, she was “not opposing the Bill”. One of her concerns was that the imposition of distance limits “would inevitably limit the number of sites where wind energy developments could be located”, which could affect the State’s ability to meet the 2020 renewable energy targets.

Mr Kelly said he had met Department of the Environment officials to discuss the matter.