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Landslides a clear and present danger

It's probably too much to expect, but, following the country's latest landslide or bog overflow, county councils and An Bord Pleanála should have more regard for people living in susceptible areas. Despite the concerns of people in Derrybrien, Co Galway, regarding a wind farm in their area, planning permission was granted for it by An Bord Pleanála. Residents' worst fears came to pass when a landslide caused devastation in 2003. Fast forward to August, 2008, and a similar landslide involving 20 acres of bog in the Kielduff/Lyrecrompane area of Co Kerry. ...The Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC), which aims to save Irish boglands, is calling on the Government to come up with a policy on the location of wind farms in sensitive habitats.

Donal Hickey says local warnings should be heeded

It's probably too much to expect, but, following the country's latest landslide or bog overflow, county councils and An Bord Pleanála should have more regard for people living in susceptible areas.

Despite the concerns of people in Derrybrien, Co Galway, regarding a wind farm in their area, planning permission was granted for it by An Bord Pleanála. Residents' worst fears came to pass when a landslide caused devastation in 2003. Fast forward to August, 2008, and a similar landslide involving 20 acres of bog in the Kielduff/Lyrecrompane area of Co Kerry.

As far back as 2001, locals, including landowner, Tom Harrington, objected to a wind farm proposal. They feared the heavy machinery used to construct a wind farm would cause a landslide. An Bord Pleanála gave planning permission anyway.

While there is no proof of a link between work on wind farms and the latest Kerry landslide, or ‘bogalanche', locals are calling on Kerry County Council to review its policy on wind turbines in upland, boggy areas. The wind farm developers have engaged consultants to investigate and have promised to make... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Donal Hickey says local warnings should be heeded

It's probably too much to expect, but, following the country's latest landslide or bog overflow, county councils and An Bord Pleanála should have more regard for people living in susceptible areas.

Despite the concerns of people in Derrybrien, Co Galway, regarding a wind farm in their area, planning permission was granted for it by An Bord Pleanála. Residents' worst fears came to pass when a landslide caused devastation in 2003. Fast forward to August, 2008, and a similar landslide involving 20 acres of bog in the Kielduff/Lyrecrompane area of Co Kerry.

As far back as 2001, locals, including landowner, Tom Harrington, objected to a wind farm proposal. They feared the heavy machinery used to construct a wind farm would cause a landslide. An Bord Pleanála gave planning permission anyway.

While there is no proof of a link between work on wind farms and the latest Kerry landslide, or ‘bogalanche', locals are calling on Kerry County Council to review its policy on wind turbines in upland, boggy areas. The wind farm developers have engaged consultants to investigate and have promised to make the findings public.

Planning authorities have tended to accept the opinions of professionals, such as engineers and geologists, while not paying attention to the vast local knowledge of people living in moorland areas with fragile eco-systems.

Locals don't want to be seen to object, because wind farms help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and are promoted as environmentally friendly. The converse argument is that wind farms have the potential to cause large-scale environmental destruction, in the form of slippages of blanket bog land, with serious consequences for homeowners, farmers, rivers, fisheries and wildlife.

Events, however, could change attitudes.

Government policy favours wind farms as a means of creating a low-carbon economy, but the electricity generated by harnessing wind is still very small. There are 70 wind farms in the country, with many more in the pipeline.

According to Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), wind farms generate enough energy to supply 146,000 users. In the National Climate Change Strategy, 2007-2012, the Government has set out ambitious targets of 15% of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2010, and 33% by 2020.

Wind energy will be the largest renewable energy type used to meet this target, so we can expect to see turbines sticking out from rising ground all around the country.

The Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC), which aims to save Irish boglands, is calling on the Government to come up with a policy on the location of wind farms in sensitive habitats.

"The recent bog burst at Lyreacrompane is a dramatic example of the continued loss and erosion of blanket-bog habitats throughout Ireland. The IPCC is preparing Ireland's Peatland Action Plan, 2020 and the location of wind farms on intact peatlands is a practice we will be campaigning against," said Sarah Malone, IPCC conservation officer.

Ireland's blanket bogs are a globally rare habitat. Each year, there are proposals for an increasing number of large wind-farm proposals located in areas of blanket bog, some of which have been designated as ‘special areas of conservation' (SACs).

While groups such as the IPCC support renewable energy generation, they strongly oppose wind farms that could result in the destruction of peat lands. Delicate, upland areas with high wind speeds are suitable for producing wind energy, but the construction work involved has serious consequences for boglands that have been there for thousands of years.

The main damaging activities to blanket bogs include the construction of a road network across the peatlands, service structures, drainage, turbine foundations and electricity pylons.

While peatlands designated as SACs are protected for nature conservation, developments such as wind farms are not automatically prohibited within the boundaries of the designated site. This results in planning applications for wind farms on designated, peatland sites. Following a recent European Court ruling and lobbying from landslide-hit communities, pressure will intensify on the Government to ensure proper environmental assessments are carried out before planning is given for wind farms in peatland areas.

Such checks are obligatory under European Union laws, but have not always been done to the level required, in the past.

Bog bursts have been recorded as naturally occurring events and, with the effects of global climate change, are set to become more frequent in Ireland, according to scientific experts.

But, with increased human activity, these naturally-occurring events could become more serious as human intervention slowly erodes the delicate balance of the bog landscape.


Source: http://www.examiner.ie/iris...

SEP 1 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/16857-landslides-a-clear-and-present-danger
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