David McWilliams (Opinion, August 14th) champions the “western seaboard from Donegal to Dingle” as Europe’s future Saudi Arabia due to wind-generated electricity.
The situation on the ground here along the western seaboard is not so rosy. Much electricity generated in wind farms never reaches the national grid, particularly at night when turbine noise is at its most damaging to residents.
There is no Government-led national plan identifying the most economical areas to locate tax-subsidised wind farms and to keep them at a safe distances from sensitive environmental areas and local communities. Currently development of wind energy is ad hoc, developer-led and dismissive of the local communities affected.
The World Health Organisation and the Health Service Executive recognise that wind farms have negative impacts on many aspects of health. The World Health Organisation recommends a setback of 1.5 km between houses and wind turbines.
In Ireland the official setback in the 2019 Draft Wind Energy Guidelines is only 500 metres, due primarily to pressure from the wind energy companies that currently have the run of the roost. For example, Galway County Council proposes to zone much of the coastal strip from Bearna to Indreabhán on Galway Bay as being suitable for wind farms, even zoning some areas that are closer than 500 metres to existing houses. These proposed zoned areas would then be at the disposal of wind energy corporations. People living in this area have never been consulted by Galway County Council. This proposal, which is of an unprecedented magnitude, is opposed by residents. Most people support renewable energy but not at the cost of their health.
Carbon reduction need not be so chaotic. Eirgrid, in its recent “Shaping-Our-Electricity-Future” document, challenge the current ad hoc developer-led model for wind energy and recommends that, “The current model for locating renewable generation would be replaced by one that is led by government policy. This approach would lead to more wind farms being developed near more densely populated areas – as this is where there is greatest demand for electricity. With this approach, the vast majority of new clean electricity that Ireland needs would come from offshore wind farms on the east coast”.
Our political leaders in Dublin need to address the many injustices being done to local communities by the 500 metres setback in the 2019 Draft Wind Energy Guidelines and the false economies of current wind energy generation along the Wild Atlantic Way. – Yours, etc,
SEÁN Ó hAODHA,
Co na Gaillimhe.
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