Politicians, wind farm developers and planners are quick to issue public statements about the importance of involving communities to ensure support and co-operation for wind farm developments. However, it would appear these utterances are sound bites with no substance. The IWEA (Irish Wind Energy Association) holds its annual conference this Thursday entitled Building a Sustainable Energy Future sponsored by Coillte. The following Friday, the Irish Planning Institute holds its autumn conference, Planning to Harness Ireland’s Energy Future.
Not a single representative from any of the 30 recently formed Midlands community groups concerned about the impact of wind developments has been invited to be present. It is not surprising that these proposals for large industrial wind-farms create division and polarisation when community groups are excluded from powerful stakeholder meetings; especially those supported and sponsored by State companies and addressed by Ministers Pat Rabbitte and Jan O’Sullivan.
Do the Government, planners and industry really want community engagement or is it just a box that must be ticked as part of the planning process? Our experience has been that wind developers and the Government have consistently refused to allow communities participate in any meaningful way. The absence of community representation at these two influential gatherings further confirms that belief. – Yours, etc,
Portlaoise, Co Laois.
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