Weak windfarm guidelines - politicians

Laois’ politicians are calling in unison for stronger rules on wind turbines.

Laois’ politicians are calling in unison for stronger rules on wind turbines.

Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan says guidelines are outdated.

“It is imperative that the Minister introduce mandatory statutory guidelines for wind farms. The guidelines from 2006 are insufficient and outdated. We need a greater consistency across local authorities in planning regulations for wind farms,” he says.

He says windfarms could be located in Laois’ cutaway bogs.

“We have many that would provide an ideal location and there are elevated sites in rural areas that can also be identified. I am in favour of wind farms but it is crucial that communities are fully informed and proper guidelines are in place,” he said, adding that Minister Hogan says public consultations will happen once new draft guidelines are published later this year.

Labour Senator John Whelan says secret negotiations are being done.

“Developers of wind farms across the midlands must come clean on their proposals and the impact of their plans on householders and communities. The size and scope of what is being proposed is unsound, unsafe, unreliable and unsustainable. The claims on employment potential and economic windfall are grossly exaggerated,” says the senator, who agrees that wind energy offers opportunities.

“Only if progressed in a sensible, transparent and secure way. Proximity from homes and impacts on health and property values must all be on the table and not dealt with as an afterthought. They are not just an issue for landowners looking to cash in, but for the entire community,” he said.

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley says guidelines are “weak and open to interpretation”.

“While I accept the need to develop the sustainable energy sector, giant wind turbines are being planned without any proper regulations. What are required are regulations to cover issues such as distances from houses, height of the turbines, noise and flicker problems. They also need to provide protection for the visual landscape and environment and proper consultation with local communities.” said Dep Stanley, who is unhappy with land options being sold outside areas designated for windfarms, such as in Vicarstown.

“Regulations are urgently required before large parts of the midlands are covered with giant turbines to provide cheap power to the UK. There is no point in bolting the door when the horse has bolted.” Dep Stanley said.