The acknowledgement yesterday, by Planning Minister Simon Coveney, that we have reached a point where large-scale windfarms are not acceptable is very welcome, but it would be even more so had he had not used the wriggle room qualifier “large-scale”.
His assertion that off-shore wind might be the more sustainable option is welcome too but, again, he should have been more assertive.
Nevertheless, his statement indicates a change of heart, one that will certainly be cheered by those facing the prospect of the technological neighbours from hell – a windfarm – on their doorstep. It will also be cheered by those – and there are more than you might think – who believe commercial interests cannot be allowed destroy the quality of life enjoyed by a community or, in the worst cases, make a home uninhabitable.
The debate around the absolute need to quickly create energy sources that do not exacerbate climate change is over, despite the flat earthers in the White House, so our wind and solar sectors will expand. That, however, must not come at an unnecessary cost to communities no matter how small.
As technology advances, as Mr Coveney acknowledged, it is more and more likely the future of wind power lies off our coast rather than outside our back doors. Investors may not welcome this but so be it, after all, building onshore incurs land costs that are not replicated at sea. It’s time subsidies were reviewed to encourage the wind sector to move to sea.
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