Library filed under Impact on People from Ireland
While the crashing to earth of turbines might have damaged wind energy’s image, opposition is much more deep-seated and points to environmental, societal and health impacts and questions the economic benefits, writes Noel Baker.
Cllr Pat Nugent told a meeting of Lismore-Dungarvan Municipal District Council that householders, some 1.2km from the site, had recorded noise levels above 75 decibels, almost twice those permitted under planning regulations.
An engineer has alleged a “fundamentally unfair” planning procedure has been adopted for a proposed wind farm development in Co Meath which he fears will adversely impact on the environment and health and development of his autistic son.
Alun Evans, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology in Queens University, Belfast said it was “quite possible” if the Dublin array, a proposed €2 billion project which would see 145 wind turbines constructed 10km off the east coast, goes ahead that up to two million people could be exposed to infrasound, a “sizeable minority” of who could potentially experience sleep disturbance.
The demonstrators accused the Government of failing to listen and engage sincerely with the communities affected by “flawed energy policies” which, they said, had the potential to damage the natural landscape as well as people’s health.
One of the most senior doctors in the Department of Health has warned the Department of the Environment that people at risk of the controversial wind turbine syndrome should be treated “appropriately and sensitively as these symptoms can be debilitating”.
Locating windfarms close to stud farms could threaten the Irish thoroughbred industry, which employs about 14,000 people, according to a submission made to the Department of the Environment.
Ireland is short of money but not wind, which now forms a central plank of its energy policy. But plans to develop wind power and export it to Britain are sparking a rural revolt, with local protest groups uniting through social media. Some claim Ireland will become a wind farm for Britain.
Residents of the Finuge area in north Co Kerry have taken the unusual step of putting 'for sale' signs on their properties because they say they will no longer want to live there if controversial proposals for a wind farm go ahead. Stacks Mountain wind farm Ltd is proposing to construct 10 windmills on bogland at Ballyhorgan, in north Kerry, but locals are vehemently opposed.
Some wind energy developers are “behaving like an oil baron of old” in dismissing concerns of communities about the potentially negative impact of their schemes, according to Minister of State for Planning Jan O’Sullivan.
The head of one of the country’s biggest wind energy companies issued an apology last night for appearing to dismiss the concerns of people opposed to having turbines beside their homes in an appearance on RTÉ’s Prime Time. Plans to build over 2,000 giant wind turbines across the midlands have prompted fierce protests amid fears that they could cause illness, noise and light pollution and reduce the value of homes.
"Turbines likely to be proposed in the midlands are not of the scale normally proposed on-shore in Ireland and as noise impact is not a consideration for off-shore tribunes, noise modelling and prediction for the turbines is relatively untested. "Consequently a precautionary approach should be taken to new turbines of this scale in proximity to noise sensitive locations," the submission stated.
"The wind industry is dressing up their deception with so called community benefits and are telling our councils that wind energy is free and green. It is not free because our electric bills are still on the rise and it certainly is not green."
One of the grounds of refusal was the pollution threat to Doonbeg river, which contains 5,000 freshwater pearl mussels - the highest concentration in Clare. At a six-day oral hearing into the wind farm in April, the country's foremost authority on the mussel, Dr Evelyn Moorkens, said if nothing was done to secure the species' future, it would disappear.
In Ireland, for example, a court case is pending involving seven families from Banteer, Co Cork and the wind energy company Enercon. The Banteer families claim living near a wind farm has destroyed their quality of life.
Kevin Scully of the Laois Wind Energy Action Group said homeowners were suffering intolerably from constant noise where the turbines had already been erected. He said guidelines on how far the turbines could be located from houses had stipulated a distance of 500 metres when the size of turbines was about 75 metres high.
Roscommon couple take issue with contentious UK study
It is "far too soon" to make final judgments on which of the export-orientated windfarm projects now being mooted will be approved and under what terms. "There is no fait accompli at this stage. None of this has reassured objectors, who are concerned about the noise and visual impact of onshore turbines and also see the export of wind energy to Britain as equivalent to "selling the family silver".
RTE News interviews Michael and Dorothy Keane from County Roscommon where they speak about living beside two 100 meter high wind turbines. Duration: 2 minutes 35 seconds
The seven families from Banteer claim they have been severely impacted, particularly through noise pollution, since the turbines began operating in Nov 2011. If the action is successful, it is expected to lead to a number of others on similar grounds. Already, cases are being prepared by householders in Wexford and Roscommon.