It is a growing industry which aims to deliver a steady source of energy without damaging the environment, our health, or our pocketbooks.
Yet wind farms are getting a frosty reception from locals who fear they will destroy their health and property prices.
There are currently 179 wind farms on the island of Ireland, part of an industry that has created 2,200 jobs and contributed €83million to local councils.
Harnessing wind can supply enough electricity for 1.3 million homes here and last year accounted for more than 15 per cent of our electricity demand. It sounds like an eco-friendly good news story.
But that is not the case for homeowners who claim the noise from nearby turbines has a devastating effect on their sleep.
They also fear that close proximity to a wind farm will drag already deflated house prices down even further.
And with no regulation to set out minimum distances, some Irish householders are already living less than 500 metres away from the nearest turbine.
The clash between wind energy companies and communities is set to get ugly with a group of homeowners in Cork taking legal action against an operator on the grounds of noise pollution.
And in the Midlands – where proposals are under way to build 2,300 wind turbines to serve the UK market – another row is brewing.
The turbines could be up to 185 metres high, dwarfing the 120 metre Dublin Spire. The energy companies behind the farms have been offering landowners 18,000 a year for each turbine erected on their land – a move that has led to a divide in the community.
Locals have set up pressure group People Over Wind to ensure the development does not have a detrimental effect on the area.
Spokesman Henry Fingleton said: “As we perceive it, the scale of the plan is so enormous that it will be the biggest transformation of the midlands counties since deforestation. It will ruin the landscape and devastate property values. We also know there is no long-term jobs benefit.
“We’ve all heard of people whose health has been affected by living so close to turbines and we’ll be in the same boat if this goes ahead.”
He said that under the current guidelines – “which don’t have to be obeyed” – around 25 per cent of the country is available for turbines.
Fingleton added: “If there was a regulation to bring the minimum distance to 1.5km from a house then the amount of available land would go down to three per cent. We believe that’s enough for the industry.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding