Rural wrath over the Government’s wind energy and pylons policy was expressed by around 5,000 people outside Leinster House in Dublin yesterday.
They had come from all over the country to take part in a march organised by Wind Aware Ireland which began at the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square shortly before midday.
News this week that an energy export deal with Britain was off the table did little to allay the protestors’ concerns.
They wanted to make it clear that pylons and wind energy would be a big issue in the local elections.
The Cabinet had been expected to discuss the Climate Bill on reducing greenhouse gases around the time the protest was taking place but it never made it to the agenda.
The bill provides a statutory basis for achieving a low-carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050.
A spokesperson for the Department of the Environment said it had been intended to publish the heads of the bill before Easter. However, he did confirm that it was still planned to have the proposed legislation passed and in place before the end of the year.
Wind Aware Ireland, a voluntary group, represents a number of community groups concerned about wind energy plans as well as the associated grid development to support wind energy.
Chairman of the group, Henry Fingleton, said they wanted a national debate about whether wind energy was capable of reducing CO2 and, if so, at what cost.
“It’s a great day when you can come up to your capital city and send a message to Government. Everyone here today should be proud,” he told protesters.
“You are telling the Government that you will not be walked on and that you have serious questions about its energy policy.”
One of the protesters, Midi de Paor Walsh from Ballinameela, Co Waterford, said she was worried about the future of her three young sons.
“I am just a mum but I feel I have to stand up for my children’s future. Their health is so important,” she said.
John Leahy from Conna, Co Cork, said he joined the protest because a pylon was being erected over his home.
“My two daughters live in houses alongside of mine and the wires are over the entire place,” he said.
Michael O’Keeffe from Tallow, Co Waterford, said a further attack was being made on rural Ireland and that was why he was making a stand.
“Our post offices, banks and Garda stations have been closed. Now we have this monstrosity coming on top of us,” he said.
However, the Irish Wind Energy Association, said wind energy had been and would continue to be key to Ireland’s required renewable strategy.
The association’s chief executive, Kenneth Matthews, said wind energy had grown to a stage where there were now more than 1,300 turbines in operation in harmony alongside local communities, with wind energy meeting from 23% to 29% of national energy needs over the last four months and reducing carbon emissions.
He said activity in the Irish wind energy sector remained strong with over 180 confirmed projects already in the pipeline that would bring jobs and investment right across the country.
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