The wife of horse trainer Aidan O’Brien has warned wind turbines are one of the biggest threats to Irish bloodstock in the history of the industry.
Anne Marie and her husband Aidan O’Brien of the world famous Ballydoyle Racing Stable in Tipperary have had years of success in the industry. But they are fearful that wind energy poses a serious threat to that industry.
In a piece for the Irish Field, published this weekend, Anne Marie wrote: “The scale of the threat to heartland Irish industries, such as bloodstock, tourism and agriculture and to all electricity bill payers from yet more costly, subsidised wind farms, and pylon blight from excessive wind farm development in Ireland, is only just revealing itself.”
She said it is obvious to anyone who works with horses that industrial-scale wind farms and pylon lines are simply not compatible with the rearing, breeding and racing of thoroughbred racehorses.
“The natural instinct of a horse, when faced with what it perceives as danger, is flight. They run first, ask questions later. We have selectively bred them for 300 years to heighten this flight reaction, making the thoroughbred race horse the ultimate racing athlete with the ability to reach speeds of up to 44mph (70 kph).”
She said this makes horses challenging at times to manage and very susceptible to injury as they possess little sense of self preservation.
Anne Marie added that such a flight response also puts the safety of handlers and riders at risk.
“Putting wind farms and pylon lines beside bloodstock farms will render that land unfit for purpose. This will have a huge financial impact on the industry, which directly employs more than 14,000 people, as well as a supply chain of ancillary goods and services, including farmers, feed merchants, vets, farriers and more underpinning vital rural jobs.”
She said even the perception of risk would damage the industry and that turbines are now up to 170 metres high − taller than the Dublin Spire.
“It is not too late for a change in direction. The Government would do well to listen to the voices of energy and economic experts who are all warning that adding still more wind is all risk and precious little benefit to anyone apart from wind farm developers.”
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