Wind farm development process lacking transparency, Martin says

Kenny counters that firms have extensive, ongoing consultations with communities

Micheál Martin:  “There is an absence of a legislative framework to deal with the step change in technology and scale of development.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Micheál Martin: “There is an absence of a legislative framework to deal with the step change in technology and scale of development.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 20:57

The provision of wind farms was scaring communities and causing division, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin claimed.

He said their size and extent were leading to major anxiety, adding that in the midlands alone there were proposals to build 700 turbines.

“Such large-scale wind farms are being developed in Ireland because of significant public opposition in Britain,’’ said Mr Martin. “Many of them are close to large clusters of housing.”

He claimed there was a fundamental absence of transparency governing such developments, and no consultation with local communities.

“Above all, there is an absence of a legislative framework to deal with the step change in technology and scale of development,” he said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the environmental impact analyses now required for almost every kind of planning application were exhaustive. He understood the firms involved had extensive and ongoing consultations with local communities.

“Deputy Martin might disagree with that; I am informed differently,” he said.

Mr Kenny said the Government could not interfere with the extensive analytical planning process whereby environmental impact analysis was up-to-date with every aspect of intrusion on landscape and other interference.

Mr Martin said he was not asking the Taoiseach to interfere in individual planning applications. The 2006 guidelines were hopelessly out of date, given the new technology. He said the health implications were real for residents close to such large-scale industrial wind turbines. He was asking the Taoiseach to introduce a legislative framework to govern their development.

Mr Martin said a similar situation had occurred before when the State went overboard with afforestation. Houses were enclosed by massive forests, which was wrong.

Mr Kenny said he did not know whether Mr Martin was for or against renewable energy, but he rejected his assertion that the Government was being in any way alarmist.