Laois/Offaly TD and Fine Gael Chairman, Charlie Flanagan has said that today’s meeting between the Fine Gael Parliamentary party and representatives of Midland community groups concerned with wind farms was both “constructive and useful”.
Deputy Flanagan was speaking after groups from the midlands and Kildare met with the party in Dail Eireann today, November 7.
“This was the first formal meeting between the concerned groups and the Fine Gael party and I invited the groups to Leinster House today because I felt it was important that they could impart their concerns to TD’s and Senators. It is crucial that at all stages of this process that communities feel that they are being listened to and that wind farms are not being foisted upon them. Some of the wind farm development companies have been haphazard in their approach to public consultation,” he said.
“It is in the interests of all concerned that all available information concerning wind farms is in the public domain. I have asked Minister Hogan to commission an independent study on the associated effects of wind turbines. There also needs to be a cost benefit analysis study carried out to determine exactly how many jobs can be created by the wind turbine industry and the associated costs of each job. It is also my expectation that the consultation process on the national wind energy guidelines will be opened later this month”
“A high level of confusion and concern still exists within communities in the Midlands and it is vital that those communities are afforded an opportunity to take part in a full consultation process. The meeting today was an important opportunity for the groups in the Midlands to have their concerns heard first hand.”
Bord Na Mona have announced plans for a Clean Energy Hub consisting of 600 to 700 turbines in East Offaly and West Kildare. Element Power plan to build 750 turbines across five counties including Kildare, while Mainstream’s plans only include a small part of West Kildare involving three to four farmers singing up to have wind turbines on their land.
Locals are concerned about possible affects on people’s health, property prices, the bloodstock industry and visual impact. The companies involved deny the turbines will pose any risks and say thousands of people live safely near wind farms throughout the world.