Wind farm facts and fictions
Sir, – Once again a wind farm developer misses the point when dealing with objections to wind farms (Letters, April 5th). Brendan McGrath, CEO of Gaelectric, writes that responsible wind farm developers consult local communities.
What he doesn’t state is that these consultations only occur once landowners have been locked into contracts to put wind turbines on their land. What follows is a divided community with some farmers set to make thousands of euros a year from turbines on their land, and their neighbours, who are facing a future of noise, visual disturbance and property devaluation.
Responsible developers should be discussing their proposals to put wind turbines into an area before they sign up local landowners. Whole communities should then be able to make an informed decision, with the right to refuse a wind farm, no matter how a land area has been designated.
Mr McGrath suggests he is motivated by a desire to cut greenhouse gases. The hundreds of wind farm objectors that I have met have exactly the same ambitions.
They just want to be able to open their windows to peace and quiet, and get a decent night’s sleep. – Yours, etc,
MIKE de JONG,
Sir – Brendan McGrath, CEO of Gaelectric takes a dim view of “Quixotics” spreading their “truth” (April 5th).
I did more than just “tilt at windmills”. The United Nations Aarhus Convention recognises that the environment does not belong to the state administration, but to the citizens, who have to be given procedural rights. In essence, citizens have to be informed about the environment around them, so that they can participate in decision-making. In addition they have to be provided with access to justice, which is fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive to challenge acts or omissions relating to the law on the environment.
In August 2012, the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, in a test case taken in my name, ruled that the EU had bypassed the necessary procedures of environmental assessment and democratic accountability in its 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020 programme. In particular it had failed to enforce these procedures of community law in Ireland, which was the only one of the 27 member states, which did not ratify the convention.
The EU and the Irish administration have refused to comply with the findings and recommendations of the compliance committee, so in November 2012, I was provided with leave in the High Court for a judicial review of the Irish renewable energy programme.
Currently the Irish State is refusing to recognise the ruling of the Compliance Committee of the Convention it finally ratified in mid-2012. Indeed it is seeking costs against me in the High Court hearing which resumes on April 11th.
Mr McGrath should come along: entrance is free to citizens. The court of public opinion is one forum. The legal court is another. Furthermore, when the tide of spin and public perception goes out, any awful lot of people can be left looking very naked. – Yours, etc,
PAT SWORDS, BE CEng
FIChemE CEnv MIEMA,
Glenageary, Co Dublin.
Sir, – One certain thing is that wind will be a part of the future energy mix.
As a non-aligned but arguably partisan academic, the recent debates have both heartened and saddened me, almost in equal measure!
Wind energy is not an ideology or a political idea. It is a technology. Technical issues, eg effectiveness, safety, noise levels and so forth, are matters of fact. These are best settled by ensuring access to good information. When you look at the technical data, there’s not all that much, technically, to debate. The debatable things include whether or not local people are happy to have wind turbines in the area; this is an important discussion and mostly about visual impact, community engagement and confidence that best practice will be followed.
I was pleased to see demonstrators at Irish Wind Energy Association’s annual conference last week; it’s a very good thing to have the discussion. It was too bad, however, to observe that those outside apparently had some poor technical information! For me, this underlined the need to better inform the public and to encourage mature debate about one of our few indigenous energy sources. And my position? Well, I’m of course entirely in favour of appropriately deployed wind. – Yours, etc,
(Dr) NIALL MCMAHON,
Wind Energy Lecturer and
Director of the Centre for
Dundalk Institute of