Dublin we understand has spent one million Euro re-branding itself from ‘Dirty Aul Town’ to, despite its unprecedented current daily carbon emissions, ‘Dublin – A breath of Fresh Air.’
Perhaps now is the time to attach a Wind Turbine to the ‘Stiletto in the Ghetto’, – the ‘Nail in the Pale,’ – the ‘Pin in the Bin,’ also sometimes known as the ‘Millenium Spire’, rising above Dublin’s O’Connell Street. This Spire, were such wind equipment to be installed, could then be re-branded ‘The Gale in the Pale’.
Certainly the introduction of a wind turbine would grant Dublin’s visiting overcharged tourists a more deceptive view of our green, clean, modern environment; its blades permanently spinning, aided by never ending hot air being exhaled by certain elected representatives in our present Cabinet.
Down here in Tipperary, where the buses no longer run; which is also home to the emotional Minister for ‘Waterworks’, Mr Alan Kelly, increasing public frustrations are being regularly expressed on five major pre-election issues, identified as currently destroying our rural economy.
These issues refer to; (A) The most cost-effective way we introduced Irish water charges; (B) The proposed construction of a 165km water pipeline to be located south of Lough Derg on the Tipperary side of the Parteen Basin, to suck water across Ireland for seriously dehydrated Dublin residents; (C) The unwarranted introduction of Property Tax on people regardless of their ability to pay; (D) Absence of rural GP care, due to the removal by this government of the Rural Practice Allowance for doctors; (E) and finally Wind Turbine Farming ventures, one in particular proposed for scenic ‘Keeper Hill’ in the Silvermines Mountains, by ESB Wind Development Ltd and Coillte. Keeper Hill, by the way, marks the highest point of rural North Tipperary and is one of Ireland’s highest scenic inland mountains; but who outside of Tipperary gives a ‘Tinkers Curse’?
Issues (A), (B), (C) and (D) we will leave alone just for the moment and deal exclusively with issue surrounding (E); Wind Turbine Farming close to Keeper Hill.
I believe it was Charles Stewart Parnell who once prophesied that when Irish men got ownership of land, the boundaries of their farms would become the boundaries of their country. The high lease payments being offered by developers to poorer upland farmers for permission to erect destructive unsightly wind turbines on their properties, now confirms Parnells worst fears and identifies a major problem for rural Tipperary. Those offered leases by developers are not taking into account the natural beauty of the landscapes they own, the views of their neighbours or the future real destruction of a slow growing Irish tourism industry.
Minister Kelly stated publicly last week that ‘he is confident’ (well he would say that, wouldn’t he) that the Government will produce details of a new ‘set-back’ distance for future wind turbines, prior to the Spring 2016 General Election. Question is; will his proposed changes to current rules governing wind turbine farming make any difference to Ms Edel Grace, Grouse Hall, Milestone, Thurles, Co. Tipperary or environmental consultant Peter Sweetman, Bunahowen, Cashel, Co Galway? Will changes make any difference to Tipperary in attracting tourism or to the other current residents and rare wildlife who share our planet, presently residing in the full view of picturesque Keeper Hill, Co. Tipperary?
This past week Tipperary’s Edel and Galway’s Peter lost their High Court case, brought in their lonely attempt to highlight the catastrophic adverse impact wind turbines will have on the locale of the Hen Harrier population. The High Court was made aware that some 400 acres of this rare bird’s natural foraging habitat would be irrevocably destroyed by the presence of such wind turbines. [To Hell with Hen Harriers, we can live without them, can’t we?.]
The couple also argued that a proper environmental impact assessment had not been carried out and this planned, proposed development; would significantly detract from the protected view of Keeper Hill, Co. Tipperary. [To Hell with environmental impact assessments, more EU red tape. Who invited them to stick their noses into Irish affairs – just keeping sending us the eco-innovation and biodiversity cheques?]
The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and an inspector on behalf of An Bord Pleanála had both recommended that permissions regarding this wind farm should be refused. [To Hell with governmental and independent bodies, what right have they to be interfering in our greedy grabbing financial affairs, just hand over the grant aided funding?]
Despite the Court applicants both claiming that the original permissions granted breached the EU Habitats Directive and the EU Environment Impact Assessment Directive, Mr Justice Raymond Fullan refused to refer a decision permitting the development of this planned wind farm to the European Court of Justice. He also refused to certify that the case raised points of law of such exceptional importance that it was in the public’s interest that same be further determined by a Court of Appeal.
This decision now clears the way for the planned unsightly development of this wind farm, which comprises; 16 turbines each 127 meters high; together with access tracks; an electrical transformer station; control buildings and a substation close to Edel Grace’s private home in Co Tipperary.
The contentious issue of erecting rural wind turbines dominated ‘Leaders Questions’ in our national parliament, Dáil Éireann, last Thursday, leading to angry exchanges and as usual no answers. From these exchanges the general public did glean that the facts around wind turbines was a ‘bone of contention’ between Labour Minister Alan Kelly and his Cabinet Labour colleague, Dublin-Rathdown Communications Minister Alex White. It appears that an urbanised Minister White is adamant that the development of more onshore wind turbines must be strongly supported within rural Ireland; warning that overly rigorous rural planning guidelines could result in Ireland missing EU renewable energy targets, thus leaving our country liable for massive fines. It appears that a Rural Ireland must continue to suffer to ensure ‘Urban Progress’ and ‘Urban Job Creation’.
Robert Troy, Fianna Fáil’s Children’s spokesperson argued strongly that such turbine development may not be a big issue in the centre of Dublin city, but that rural Ireland are deeply and understandably worried over the continuous impact of such wind farm developments in rural areas. Some rural groups, which are understood to include major figures involved in Ireland’s equine industry, have been demanding that the Government immediately introduce significant ‘set-back distances’ and rightly regulate future turbine construction.
Any new rules if introduced are expected to increase the minimum distance between these noisy, ground vibrating, eye-sores (which are currently supposed to stands a mere 500m from a private home), while continuing to destroy natural areas of scenic beauty and drastically reduce the market value of existing private residences. Wind energy companies are also expected to be halted in the construction of Mega-Wind Turbines into the future, from reaching heights of higher than 170m.
Alan Kelly made promises, also prior to the 2011 General Election, in relation to rural Ireland and his native Co. Tipperary; e.g. Employment, Industry, Tourism. Now five years on and despite his own personal elevation to the post of Deputy Labour Party Leader, not even one of his promises have ever materialised.
No doubt the posters for 2016 will again read; VOTE NO 1 – Alan Kelly – Labour Party.