In “Ireland must continue to invest in wind farms” (Opinion & Analysis, February 20th), Gary Healy states that new planning guidelines are being finalised that will determine how future wind farms will be developed, and adds that it is critical that these guidelines do not imperil future investment in the sector or Ireland’s obligations regarding renewables.
Publication of fit-for-purpose guidelines has been delayed for over three years because the Department for Communications, Climate Action and Environment has been unable to come to terms with the unpalatable truth, revealed to them almost two years ago by an expert noise-modelling report, that a minimum set-back distance of 1.2 km from residential properties is necessary to take account of the vastly larger turbines being installed today, and to meet the 40 decibel absolute noise limit proposed in the draft document published as far back as 2013.
The simple truths are first, to require a setback of this magnitude would bring the entire wind energy industry to an immediate, complete and permanent standstill; and second, our rural population is too widely dispersed to allow adequate space for it and 150m to 200m wind turbines to safely co-exist.
Had a strategic environmental assessment for energy been carried out – as required by EU law – before embarking on our (almost) wind-only renewable adventure, this fact would have quickly emerged and we would have discovered that wind was the wrong renewable option to choose in order to meet our EU targets.
Governments are notoriously bad at swallowing nasty pills of this size and flavour; much better to ignore the scientific evidence, pretend the problem is “all in the mind”, and let their successors sort out the mess.