Dunmanway, to my mind, has long been one of the least interesting towns in the otherwise exhilarating West Cork. But last week it became one of the centres of a relatively recent, but rapidly expanding, revolt against windpower in Ireland.
Some six per cent of the country’s electricity is now generated from the wind, and wind farms are a common sight in much of the country. In parts of inland West Cork, for example, it is rare to find a view that does not contain them, and there are places where four or five encircle you on surrounding hills. But so far there has been relatively little of the opposition to them that has become common on the other side of the Irish Sea.
This is, however, beginning to change, provoking even some people in Dunmanway to get up in arms. Angry scenes broke out last week at a “public information” meeting on plans to erect twelve 131 metre high turbines near the iconic mountain of Shehy More between the town and the upper Lee valley to the north. It would be visible for miles around in popular hiking territory and is, locals say, the third wind farm to be proposed in the last year for the hills around picturesque Loch Allua between the villages of Inchigeela and Ballingeary.
Dave Edmond, of the appropriately named nearby alternative community of Coolmountain, led the revolt, accusing the wind industry of “just wanting a quick buck.” He added: “They have figured out how to get the grants and ‘shemoz’ the authorities” and predicted that the turbines would soon be “as obsolete and curious looking as the Easter island statues.”
Opposition has also been growing to schemes in other parts of the country, and much of it is concentrated on proposals to erect 2,300 turbines in the Irish midlands to export clean energy to England. Two thousand people recently marched against them, and the opposition Fianna Fail party has backed the protests.
Much of the problem is that the Irish wind industry seems bent on emulating the greed and insensitivity of its counterpart across the water instead of following the more community-led and environmentally friendly approach adopted in countries like Denmark and Germany, which set out to keep the turbines well away from homes. Inevitably therefore, it looks like reaping a similar whirlwind.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding