Rural campaigners aim to unseat three Cabinet Ministers

Alex White, Alan Kelly, Charlie Flanagan targeted by group over wind farm stance

 

A community group representing rural Ireland intends to unseat three Government Ministers at the next election as part of a new campaign against wind farms.

Protect Rural Ireland says it is targeting Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Alex White, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly and Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan due to their sympathetic attitudes towards attempts to build more wind farms and electricity pylons across the Republic.

The group will also focus its energies on harming the re-election prospects of Dáil TD Bernard Durkan, Emmet Stagg and Marcella Corcoran Kennedy through on-the-ground canvassing and leaflet drops detailing the alleged negative consequences of wind turbines in particular.

At a launch in Dublin, Laois-based businessman and anti-wind farm activist Henry Fingleton said the turbines were an ineffective source of renewable energy, that they were destroying the landscape of rural Ireland and that structures close to family homes were causing sleep deprivation and mental health issues. The organisation is to conduct its first canvas in Portlaoise on Saturday involving “30 to 40 volunteers”.

“There is a war taking place in rural Ireland – not one with guns, bullets or bombs, but with wind turbines and pylons,” Mr Fingleton said. “Families are being forced from their homes and our landscape and environment are being threatened – not to mention the health of the Irish public.”

Public response

Protect Rural Ireland will not put forward an election candidates but Mr Fingleton said the policy may change depending on the public’s response.

The organisation contends that if the ESB Moneypoint power station in Clare were converted to process biomass rather than coal, this would negate the need to build more wind farms at a fraction of the cost.

This is according to a fully costed report conducted by BW Energy, a body that has previously drawn criticism from electricity network company Eirgrid for what it called a “seriously flawed” report into the controversial Grid25 strategy last year.

Also at the launch were planning expert Ann Mulcrone, who said more wind farms would “decimate” Ireland’s tourist industry, and sleep specialist Dr Christopher Hanning, who said turbine noise was “more annoying” and disruptive than the sound of air, rail or road traffic.

Responding to the claims, a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Natural Resources said wind energy remains “by far” the most cost-effective form of renewable electricity for Ireland.

She added that converting Moneypoint in the proposed manner would require “significant levels of capital investment” by its operator ESB, and would lead to increased electricity prices due to higher tariffs.