Plans for the development of over 1,000 wind turbines across the midlands are in doubt after the Irish and UK governments failed to agree on a deal to export the energy to the UK.
A report in the Irish Independent today highlighted the lack of progress on the talks, with Minister Pat Rabbitte expressing his view that a deal was unlikely.
There has been strong reaction to the news in Kildare.
Cllr. Fiona O’Loughlin said shelving the UK wind deal should be good news for the county.
“The plan to export renewable power to the UK has been abandoned because of a combination of Tory opposition and mismanagement by the Government. This has closed the door on any immediate cross border wind power deal,” she said.
“There is no doubt that the Government lost public support and credibility because of the way they allowed this issue be introduced. Big companies were signing deals with local farmers in the midlands before anything was decided, dividing communities from the outset, and not taking into consideration anything to do with height, noise, distance and shadow flicker, or in our own county of Kildare-the thoroughbred county, the impact on the equine business,” she added.
“As a country, we should use this reversal to start again with a clean slate and a whole new approach to the development of wind power. As a country, we still have to develop indigenous renewable energy sources.
“It is clear from the experience of the last 12 months that any new projects should have proper consultation and community ownership models designed in from the start. Not alone do we need to put community ownership at the heart of whatever happens next, we need to have proper consultation and a commitment that the planning permissions and conditions should come before our own planning authority-Kildare County Council and allow the Kildare people we elect make the decisions. Nevertheless at this point in the campaign for Rathangan, Allenwood and Kilmeague areas, this has to be good news.”
Senator John Whelan remarked; “As I had predicted, the British Government have pulled the plug on developer led plans to erect thousands of industrial wind turbines across the midlands. I am delighted with this news and commend the decision of the UK Climate and Energy Secretary, Minister Ed Davey, not to proceed with an inter-governmental agreement, which would have led to the catastrophic erection of thousands of giant wind farms throughout the country. However, we won’t be celebrating just yet as we must now have absolute clarity as to the import and implications of this decision.”
He said “these far fetched proposals for ‘phantom’ wind farms would have eventually ended up like our ghost estates, as they are entirely unsustainable from an economic, environmental and social basis.”
Senator Whelan stressed it is now more vital than ever that Ireland’s entire energy policy is revisited as it requires a root-and-branch review.
“I am hopeful that Minister Pat Rabbitte will at the earliest juncture possible be able to bring clarity to the situation as our existing energy plans are holed below the water line. I will be engaging with the Minister to do so in the Senate next week,” he added.
“In my opinion the wind export project was always a dubious proposal, a Pyramid Scheme worthy of the Wolf of Wall Street and there should be no comfort for it on Kildare Street. While families have been unnecessarily tormented and communities torn apart hundreds of farmers who were advised to sign lease contracts for turbines have been left high and dry,” he stressed.
He said a statement from the Minister to clarify the implications of the collapse of the inter-governmental agreement was now required.
Only one of the three companies involved in wind farm development in Kildare have responded to the latest revelations. Element Power’s spokesperson said; “We’ve no comment to make at this time.”
The fact that agreement has not been reached on the export of energy obviously will affect large scale wind turbine development, but small scale wind farms could still go ahead for the Irish grid. The companies involved had always stressed the projects were economically viable and would benefit communities with jobs and community gain grants. However, local campaigners disputed the job figures and questioned the benefits for the localities.