A Bill by Laois Sinn Féin TD, Brian Stanley, proposing a legal setback distance for wind turbines of 10 times the height of the turbine has been defeated in the Dáil.
The bill received 40 votes for and 83 votes against with zero abstaining.
Speaking after the vote, Brian Stanley has said that it is extremely disappointing that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have rejected legal protections on wind farm developments and have simply ignored the huge concerns across rural Ireland.
“Wind farms with giant turbines are continuing to get planning permission in locations too close to people’s homes. The Sinn Féin Bill wanted a legal setback distance for wind turbines of 10 times the height of the turbine. Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil voted against this and other legal protections in the Dáil today.
“Both parties cited the upcoming Wind Turbine Guidelines as the mechanism to use. We are waiting over 5 years for these guidelines. The Minister for Environment, Denis Naughten, said this week in the Dáil these will not be legally binding, so rural Ireland is denied legal protections from the large wind turbine industry in the future.
“The Sinn Féin Bill also contained provisions in terms of noise and shadow flicker as well as optional community ownership. If Fianna Fáil had of voted in favour of this Bill, it would have passed and legal rights could have been given to rural dwellers throughout this state. It is disappointing they have taken this decision,” he said.
The Sinn Féin TD put the Wind Turbine Regulation Bill forward for debate in the Dáil last week.
Speaking before the Bill went to a vote, Deputy Stanley explained what it would have meant if it was passed.
“This Bill provides greater protection for rural communities and greater community consultation on proposals to construct wind farms. It includes Regulations for a minimum setback distance of 10 times the height of the turbine blade tip.
"It will also protect homes from noise and shadow flicker and limits the exportation of electricity from wind turbines so that the electricity generated stays within the state.
"Wind turbine developers would also have to provide local residents the opportunity to purchase up to 20% of a stake in the development and a bond put in place to ensure payment is made for the repair of local infrastructure such as roads and water services.
"To ensure local democracy, wind turbines can only be located in areas designated by local councillors in the County Development Plan.
"Six Ministers and two Governments have failed to address this issue and developers want to cover Laois and Offaly in monstrous wind turbines.
"Wind is only part of the solution but we also have to diversify our renewable energy sources such as biogas, biomass and solar. These will help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions but will also create employment that is badly needed in rural Ireland. In the meantime it is vital that the construction of giant wind turbines is properly regulated and that is what this Bill sets out to do. This is an opportunity for Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael , Labour and Independents to get off the fence once and for all," he said.
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