Wind turbines technology ‘intrusive, divisive, and not effective’, says protester.
Windfarm opponents have welcomed the scrapping of a wind energy export plan that would have seen the construction of more than 1,000 turbines in the midlands to provide power to Britain.
They pledged to continue their fight against proposed windfarms in other locations and say they are not convinced the midlands project will not re-emerge.
A demonstration planned for tomorrow will go ahead, with opponents marching from Parnell Square to the gates of Leinster House.
Andrew Duncan, one of the organisers of the protest, a spokesman for the Lakelands Wind Farm Information Group, and chair of the Midlands Alliance of local opposition groups, said the battle was not over.
“The options the windfarm developers took on the land were for five years with a possible extension of a further five years in many cases, so that’s still a 10-year guillotine hanging over communities,” said Mr Durcan.
He said smaller windfarms were still proposed for many other locations around the country and that these need to be opposed. “The technology is intrusive, divisive, and not effective,” he said. “We have got to force the Government to sit back and have a proper look in this process and not have a developer-led approach to it.”
The export deal, which was negotiated for more than a year, was expected to see the midlands project produce wind-generated electricity to power 1m homes in Britain by 2020.
While it was a commercial venture between Bord na Móna, Mainstream Renewal Power, and Element Power, it required agreement between the Irish and British governments on, among other things, the price for energy provided and responsibility for the costs of an undersea connector cable.
Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte indicated last month that the talks were in trouble and announced yesterday they were not proceeding. He said: “I regret that it has not been possible at this time to conclude an agreement as envisaged.”
However, he added: “I believe that, in the context of an European Internal Market and greater integration, greater trade in energy between Britain and Ireland is inevitable in the post-2020 scenario.”
Labour senator John Whelan said: “Good riddance to this ridiculous proposal. It never stacked up economically, environmentally, or socially, not to mention the untold damage and divisions it has caused in rural communities.”
Fianna Fáil senator Thomas Byrne said that the project had been delayed, not scrapped.
“This means that, for the foreseeable future, the threat of windfarms and their related pylons and overhead power lines still hangs over the people of Connacht, the midlands, and the north-east,” he said. “This is an unfair and cynical approach by the minister.” Sinn Féin’s spokesman on the environment, Brian Stanley, said it was time for a full debate on all renewable energy sources.
“A comprehensive strategy for energy that encompasses all alternative and renewal resources rather than focusing only on wind has to be a priority,” he said.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, however, said the decision to walk away from talks with Britain would cost Ireland dearly: “What we have now in Irish energy politics is short-term, populist thinking gone awry.”
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