Tilting at wind turbines

Sir, – Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources stated that the Midlands was traditionally "one of the most economically deprived regions in the State" (Home News, March 9th).

This is untrue and an insult to the people of the Midlands. The people may be placid and much of the land flat, but they are not such fools as to see the folly of 185m-high wind turbines.

Of course, if Mr Rabbitte wanted to do something practical for the Midlands he could put Government investment into re-opening the railway line between Mullingar and Athlone. This would be an environmentally friendly project to help Mullingar, Moate and Athlone. It would also link with the Sligo, Galway and Mayo lines. – Yours, etc ,




Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Sir, – A lot of the debate regarding the proposal to install more than2,500 wind turbines in the Midlands. is ill-informed, speculative, or plain wrong.

The proposed turbines are 185 m high, the chimney at Kinnegad cement factory is 125 m and although not moving, is visible from 30 km away. Fact. Imagine what the Midlands with 2,666 turbines, with three blades apiece, will appear like.

Approximately 1,000 landowners would have these machines installed on their lands, hoping to get ¤18,000 for each unit annually. This represents a significant sum of money in these difficult times and cannot be ignored. What is being overlooked is that each unit takes 2.5 hectares of land out of production if access roads, etc are considered. Calculate the loss of area aid and possible other EU payments and this looks less attractive. Then the tax man will most certainly want his share. These figures are possible to calculate, less easy is the price of friendship and value of neighbours. Will people next to these turbines be willing to help with a cow calving or worry about a strange van on the road? Possibly not.

There are 20,000 jobs in the pipeline according to the politicians and the promoters and they are correct. The only trouble is the pipeline has its outlet in Denmark, Germany and China. Yes there will be jobs here on site: hands up who has the skills and qualifications necessary to erect these giant? The locals will get jobs: those big cranes will need flagmen and women to stop the traffic, and more to pour a bit of cement. When the turbines are up and running they will be operated remotely, possibly by the power user in the UK, so don't rely on anything being needed here. There may be need for extra gardai, keeping warring neighbours apart, and medical staff to deal with the stress-related complaints caused by the noise and other pollution. Even these jobs are doubtful as we don't have the money to pay them.

One ray of sunshine is that the local property tax band that you are in will be reduced substantially. If you are within several miles of one of these machines you are certainly in the ¤0-100,000 band, and nearer to the zero than the top.

These wind farms will be owned by foreign investors, erected using foreign equipment and staff, operated by a handful of permanent employees, the product sold to the UK, which will get the benefit of the carbon credits, power and not have to worry about the environmental impact. The benefit to this country will be so small in comparison to the reward that it is laughable that we are considering it at all. – Yours, etc,



Co Westmeath.