IWEA apologises to wind farm communities across Ireland
The Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) has apologised to communities across Ireland who have been negatively impacted by the development of wind farms – via its members – in their localities.
The association’s head of communications and public affairs Justin Moran also confirmed that a new focus on community and public engagement would ensure that relations between residents and developers will improve “going forward” as wind energy gets set to step up a gear in this country.
Moran’s comments come in the aftermath of the publication of a series of articles by AgriLand in which community groups from Donegal to Kerry laid bare the difficulties both they and the local environment now face as a direct result of wind farm developments in their area.
He also pointed out that the latest phase of the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) – which the organisation anticipates will be up and running early next year – will place an obligation on all wind farm developers to offer an investment opportunity to people in the community.
IWEA, meanwhile, is a trade association that represents companies involved in the planning and development of wind farms in Ireland. It represents all the big players in the industry including Brookfield, Coillte, Bord na Móna, ESB and SSE.
‘Bridging the great divide’
Speaking about the fallout between developers and communities Moran said there was “an acceptance” in the industry that the way in which member companies engaged with communities in the past “was not the way”.
There would be an acceptance in the industry that the way in which we engaged with communities in the past – and the way we have engaged with communities – is not the way to be doing it.
He continued: “Wind farm developers need to realise that the people who live in these areas have been there long before they arrived.”
Moran went on to say that it was public knowledge now that situations have arisen in rural Ireland where, when locals tried to explain to developers why they simply could not place a wind turbine in a particular area or on a specific piece of land, communication subsequently broke down.
“We need to listen to what local people are saying to us. We all know there are cases where developers came in and locals were able to tell them that they would not be able to put a wind turbine in such and such a location for whatever civic or environmental reason it was,” he added.
Developers very often don’t know these things and the feedback from the community is very, very important in all of this.
“Engaging with the community and sharing knowledge will result in a more effective project for everybody concerned.
“Information that is given in an open, transparent, accessible and a factually correct way is the way forward and results in a better experience for everyone.
Please be advised that East Ayrshire Council has, as of Wednesday 9 August 2017, served Stop and Enforcement Notices on Community Windpower, and other interested parties, in relation to the works which have been undertaken on site to date and the non-compliance with Condition 36 of planning approval 13/0198/PP (Private Water Supplies)
The notices, in tandem, have the effect on stopping all works associated with the windfarm development until such times as their terms are complied with. The Stop Notice has taken effect immediately and will stay in place until such times as the enforcement notice takes effect on 8 September 2017.
I can confirm that the site has been visited both yesterday and today by officers and Natural Power have been stood down. No works are currently underway and one rig has been removed from site.
It is anticipated that officers from The Council will meet with representatives of Community Windpower to discuss matters and explore possible solutions to the current position at the early part of next week.
I will issue an update following this meeting should any of the current circumstances change significantly.
“A Highland anti-windfarm campaigner who has had enough of “industry spin” hopes her new book about turbines will be allowed into schools to bring some balance to the debate.”
Lyndsey Ward was recently interviewed about her book that presents the other side of wind development impacts in order to counter industry’s pro- wind literature being allowed in schools.
“Tiny the Turbine is a story that really is for children. Following Subsidy Sam’s release it was clear that there was a need for something that would help children understand the negative impacts of large scale wind developments. Happily Josh agreed and we have worked together to produce this second story specifically for children. Subsidy Sam is a dark tale but Tiny the Turbine is a moral and uplifting story and shows that it is possible to succeed in fighting against the bad things in life no matter how daunting it may seem.”
For printed copies, any commercial resale or reuse please email Lyndsey Ward
Windfarm campaigner hopes new book will take-out the industry spin
Published December 12, 2016; The Press and Journal by Iain Ramage
Wind development includes risk of contamination to water sources. In Scotlandplanning conditions are to be reviewed in a public hearing for the proposed Sneddon Law Community Wind. The project has appealed to discharge conditions meant to be protective of water sources for its wind power complex.
“Congratulations to Val Martin, who took on An Bord Pleanala in the High Court and won. This amazing achievement is testimony to the fact that it is possible for a person, with no formal legal training, but with bucketloads of planning knowledge and guts, to take on the State apparatus in the High Court and win.” Republic of Ireland
“In 2009, the predecessor to Raragh developments applied for planning permission for a wind farm at Kingscourt. Cavan 09/270, It supplied an Environment Impact Statement (EIS) (of sorts). Despite objection from 38 households the Local Council granted permission and it was appealed to ABP. They carried out a sort of EIA and granted planning permission. As the developer did not know details of the cables at the time, a specific condition was that the planning permission did not include the connecting cables.
In 2015, the developer applied to extend the period of operating time for the wind farm until 2020. He stated that an EIS has been provided with the first application and Cavan Co. granted the application stating that an EIA had been done in 2010. In May 2015, the developer applied for a declaration under Section 2 of the PDA to declare the 5.5 km of underground cables to the ESB sub-station in Kilnalun, Co. Meath to be development and exempted development. Cavan Co. Council referred it to ABP (No.RL . 02. 3369).
On the 3rd May, 2016, the Board stated that it was a “development” and “an exempted development”. This would have allowed the whole work to go ahead.
I took a judicial review No 2016/460/JR acting as a lay litigant (presenting the case myself). I claimed that the underground cabling was not a “development” but a “project” and accordingly it could never be classed as an exempted development. I cited the O’Grainne judgment and its ratio decidendi (binding part of the judgment) where the Judge said “In truth I have already concluded the wind farm and cabling are one project”. I cited a few European cases which proved that a project can be split into phases and that the 2nd or subsequent phases must be assessed under the EIA Directive. In other words, when deciding whether its environmental effects are acceptable, it must be assessed with the cumulative effects of the entire project, and not just the phase currently under consideration.
The Board and the wind farm developer opposed me. They served me with a cart load of documents and I simply wrote in the legal submission that the High Court has no role to play in assessing planning applications, but must confine itself to the law alone. The Board Lawyers, Philip Lee and Co. caved in and the developer’s lawyers did too. The Barrister for the Board arrived in Court No 1 before Judge McGovern and said “this is the man who beat Board Pleanala” in a good humoured way. There was no need for the 2-day trail which had been allocated.
The Judge said he would quash the decision of the Board and award me costs.
Should anyone want copies my case and legal argument, just ask and I will send to you as hard copies. I acknowledge the help of Pat Swords, David Malone, Owen Martin, Francis Clauson, committee chairman Mike Muldoon, Dublin solicitor (and friend) George McGrath , campaigners all over the country and neighbours at Kingscourt for their encouragement.
Essentially the law is:
1) projects cannot be developments.
2) Projects can be split but all information known should be provided at each phase.
3) Projects cannot be processed under the PDA alone.
4) The PDA (part X) is the vehicle for processing an EIA.
5) One major cop, well spotted by David Malone and used by me is that Article 2(4) of the EIA Directive allows for exemption a project from an EIA in exceptional circumstances. If this is done government must inform the EU Commission and comply with a number of conditions which are very strict. I think this would cover situations like where there is some sudden and unforeseen important event where development would have to be done without submissions for the public. An international summit or the like. This is the only way a project can be exempted.
The developer’s lawyers indicated that they did not want to remit the application to the Board. I do not know if they will now apply for an EIA for the cables and planning permission, that is for another day.
The parents of autistic children have particular fears about the effects turbines and high voltage pylons may have on their quality of life.
Whenever Jenny Spittle’s children visit their grandad in England, 12-year-old Billie comes home tired, complaining of headaches, earache, dizziness and hearing buzzing noises. Billie has autism and her mother is convinced her symptoms are brought on by the towering pylons and wind turbines located near her grandfather’s house. Now Jenny lies awake at night worrying about plans to build a wind farm close to her home in Co Westmeath.
“I see what she’s like after a week with her grandfather and wonder how she’ll cope if we have these things on our doorstep,” she says.
Like many autistic children, Billie is hyper-sensitive to sound and light. She hears sounds at frequencies that are inaudible to most people, and Jenny is afraid she will find the sound of wind turbines close to home intolerable.
“It’s not easy raising an autistic child, yet while I’m busy trying to organise psychotherapy, speech and language, occupational therapy and all the other kinds of supports she needs to help her cope with everyday life, I also have to make time to protest against pylons and wind turbines,” she says. “I can’t afford to wait until they’ve been built to voice my objections. I have to protect my child.”
Thirteen years ago, university lecturer Neil van Dokkum and his wife Fiona moved from South Africa to an idyllic part of Waterford with their two sons. Their youngest, Ian, had been diagnosed with autism and part of the reason for choosing to make their home in such a remote location was to give Ian the peaceful environment they felt he needed in which to thrive. Then, six months ago, Neil heard about the proposed construction of pylons in the area from a neighbour. The news set off alarm bells for him and his family.
“Ian is incredibly sensitive to electric noise and certain types of light,” he says. “He will start crying and become very agitated. It is a source of emotional trauma for him. My wife and I discovered the extent of this sensitivity when we installed energy-saving light bulbs in our kitchen. When Ian walked in, he put his fingers into his ears, screwed his face up tight and said: ‘Blue light off, please Daddy. Blue light off!’ I was sitting directly under the light and had not noticed anything. Ian was standing at the door, about four metres away, and he couldn’t bear it. Can you imagine how he will be affected by pylons carrying 400kV power lines? Like many other parents of autistic kids and indeed children with other intellectual disabilities, we deliberately moved to the country so as to be away from the city with its high levels of ambient noise, including electrical noise, and disturbance. At night, it can be so quiet here that I can hear the cows crunching grass in the field opposite. Can you imagine how that silence will be shattered by clanking pylons? More specifically, how my son’s silence will be shattered by the electrical noise coming from those cables? How will he be able to sleep with that noise? And how will the rest of my family sleep as Ian becomes highly agitated when awakened by this distressing noise?
“The other concern I have is flight risk. Ian, like many autistic children, has no sense of danger and will run away and on to the road at any opportunity. He is not running away from anything, but sometimes seems to feel the need to rush into an open space. Again, the countryside, with its minimal traffic and quieter roads, is far safer than a city with all those vehicles. Even so, my property is fenced and gated, not to keep people out, but rather to keep my son in and safe.
My deepest fear now is that the electrical noise coming off cables and pylons will disturb him so much that he will attempt to run from it. And if he can’t get out, he will bang his head against the wall out of sheer frustration. The potential consequences are too painful to even contemplate, and if the proposed construction of pylons across the countryside goes ahead, selling our house would be impossible, so we are effectively trapped.
“If the Government were to abandon its slavish adulation of the wind industry and pursue the biomass option, converting Moneypoint power station to biomass boilers, it could save over three billion euro. Imagine how many state-of-the-art facilities for people with intellectual disabilities could be built with that sort of money.”
A Department of Health spokesperson says: “According to international literature, no direct health effects have been demonstrated in persons living in close proximity to wind turbines. However, it is agreed that there is a need for additional, well-designed studies in this area. The Department of Health advises that anyone who believes they are experiencing any health problems should consult their GP promptly.”
In its draft development plan, Westmeath County Council required any new wind farm development to implement a setback distance of 10 times the height of the turbine from residential dwellings, but the Department of the Environment intervened. Under Objective PWin6 of the plan, a turbine measuring 180m, for instance, would be sited at least 1.8km away from any house, while according to the Department’s wind energy guidelines, a distance of 500m is deemed sufficient. Minister of State for Planning Jan O’Sullivan wrote to the council instructing it to re-examine the setback distance.
“We received over 5,600 submissions from constituents who supported PWin6, which would have kept the setback distance in place,” says Westmeath County Council chairman Peter Burke. “We informed the Minister of State that we felt the Department’s guidelines were not adequate and she appointed an inspector to carry out an independent review.”
Last month, that inspector’s report recommended against the inclusion of the PWin6 objective on the grounds that it “would be contrary to section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000.”
At the time of writing, the Department’s final decision on the matter is pending.
Safety first: Are turbines and pylons dangerous?
Now that Ireland’s plan to export wind energy to Britain has been scrapped, the public has been left a little breathing space to focus on a simple question: Are wind farms and their related pylons and overhead power lines safe or not?
The Department of Health’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Colette Bonner, has said that older people, people who suffer from migraine, and others with a sensitivity to low-frequency vibration, are some of those who can be at risk of ‘wind turbine syndrome’.
“These people must be treated appropriately and sensitively as these symptoms can be very debilitating,” she commented in a report to the Department of the Environment last year. We asked Dr Bonner for clarification.
“Presently the World Health Organisation does not classify Wind Turbine Syndrome as a disease under the WHO international classification of diseases,” she said. “Current research in the area suggests that there are no direct health effects of wind turbines. However, there are methodological limitations of many of the studies in this area and more high quality research is recommended.”
Side by side with the controversy over wind farms comes concern over the high voltage pylons which distribute the electricity generated by the wind turbines to the national grid. Chief Medical Officer in the Deptartment of Health, Dr Tony Holohan, has stated that he does not think there is a health risk associated with people living in vicinity of pylons.
But not everybody agrees; according to British physicist Denis Henshaw, people have every reason to be concerned. Emeritus professor of human radiation effects at Bristol University and scientific director of the charity Children with Cancer UK, he recently told a public health meeting in Trim, Co Meath, that high voltage power cables are linked “beyond reasonable doubt” to childhood leukaemia and other diseases.
“It has been shown again and again that there is a definite risk of childhood leukaemia and other diseases near these lines,” he says. “The link is so strong that when a childhood leukaemia occurs near these lines there is a greater than 50pc chance that the leukaemia is due to the line. This raises the prospect of legal action for corporate manslaughter against those involved in putting the line there. The Irish government and EirGrid need to take care of their citizens and acknowledge the known health risks in people near these lines.”
A spokesman for EirGrid says: “We’re not doctors, but having taken advice from experts at the World Health Organisation, along with the chief science adviser and the chief medical officer, it is clear to us that there is no evidence to link overhead lines with adverse health effects.”
The Government report ‘Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields’ 2007 says: “Given that there is still uncertainty about whether long-term exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields could cause childhood leukaemia, use of precautionary measures to lower people’s exposure would therefore appear to be warranted.
“As a precautionary measure, future power lines and power installations should be sited away from heavily populated areas to keep exposures to people low.”
A new paper published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation warns that intermittent wind and solar energy pose a serious energy security risk and threaten to undermine the reliability of UK electricity generation.
Many people – including ministers, officials and journalists – believe that renewable energy enhances Britain’s energy security by reducing the dependency on fossil fuel imports. The ongoing crisis over the Ukraine and Crimea between Russia and the West has given much attention to this argument.
Written by Philipp Mueller, the paper (UK Energy Security: Myth and Reality) concludes that domestic and global fossil fuel reserves are growing in abundance while open energy markets, despite the conflict in the Ukraine, are enhancing Britain’s energy security significantly.
In contrast, the ability of the grid to absorb intermittent renewable energy becomes increasingly more hazardous with scale.
Germany provides a warning example of its growing green energy insecurity. Last December, both wind and solar power came to an almost complete halt for more than a week. More than 23,000 wind turbines stood still while one million photovoltaic systems failed to generate energy due to a lack of sunshine. For a whole week, conventional power plants had to provide almost all of Germany’s electricity supply.
Germans woke up to the fact that it was the complete failure of renewable energy to deliver that undermined the stability and security of Germany’s electricity system.
“Open energy markets are a much better way to ensure energy security than intermittent generation systems like wind and solar. It would be a huge risk in itself for Britain to go down the same route as Germany and destabilise what is still a reliable UK electricity grid,” said Philipp Mueller.
I find it difficult to believe that anyone in their right mind, would think that building wind turbines, close to an Air Force base, is a good idea. Even if the turbines were an efficient, affordable, method of generating electricity, (which they are not), you would put them in locations where they would do no harm. The wind weasels have the audacity to think, that they can shove their useless machines where ever they please. Time to crack down, and get rid of them.