Now you know we haven’t gone away Minister We told you; Ministers Coveney and Naughten, that we are not going away and after a demonstration outside the Dáil from constituent members from 22 counties, you know we are not. Our protest proves that Wind Aware Ireland is, from small beginnings now a national movement. We are not dilettantes or contrarians but are instead a national movement of independent hard working citizens who believe in virtues such as dialogue, respect and protecting communities. Wind Aware Ireland is not prepared to tolerate the scenario where rural Ireland is turned into a wasteland or a sink-hole for experiments with wind-power technology. Our concerns are science based and raise real economic issues. To be clear … again … we want an energy policy that can Secure community support confidence and trust Effectively tackle the issue of climate change The current wind-power strategy is a failed political and economic experiment. This policy is an abysmal failure as it fails to do what it was set up to do. To date the 1400 turbines, built in the teeth of community resistance, has saved about 3% of our overall CO2 emissions. Some of our opponents have tried to characterise us as a basket of Deplorables. We are in fact realists. The real Deplorables are the political elite who continue to take the easy option of supporting the roll out of industrial wind in their energy policy & enable big wind developers to force these monstrosities on local landscapes solely to benefit themselves. We also intend to challenge the hypocrisy of politicians who make comforting noises to... read more

Carrickaduff Wind Turbine Application

An Bord Pleanala decision to refuse SID application for 49 turbines at Carrickaduff Co. Donegal It is an understatement to say that the recent decision by The Bord dated the 23rd March 2016 to refuse permission for this enormous development, which covered an area of 40sq.km. in the Finn Valley Co. Donegal, was greeted by all involved as a major relief and an endorsement of rational thinking. I represented the local Finn Valley Wind Action Group which was a community wide initiative that also helped coordinate individual observations, which ran to over 200 submissions on the application. The Community is very much to be commended for the position that it adopted in opposing this development which was completely out of character with the local area and conflicted across a wide range of environmental interests. From my view point I would question the process around SID projects where this application had been subject to pre application consultation with The Bord through one of its Inspectors. A process for which the public and by extension the stakeholders in the local community where the application is intended to be developed, are shut out. This is an issue that has been challenged by others in recent times. Given the restriction on space here I am somewhat limited as to the extent that I can explore the many significant pointers in the consideration by The Bord in reaching the conclusion to refuse. I have dealt with wind farms and many large scale developments of great complexity over the past 18 years, and I have to say that this application presented us with a unique set... read more

Wind Turbines and Machinery Directive

In  2013 a wind turbine collapsed in a wind farm in Loughderryduff Co. Donegal. A short time later a blade flew off a wind turbine in Corkermore also in Co. Donegal. Whilst Vestas, the manufacturer of Loughderryduff wind turbine, carried out an investigation, the conclusions of this investigation were never published, even though a copy of the investigation report was given to Donegal County Council. The EU Commission recognises wind turbines as machines as defined by The Machinery Directive and that Article 4 of the Machinery Directive, Market Surveillance, can be applied to wind turbines. This is to determine if the wind turbine type in question was validly CE certified and mechanically complies with The Machinery Directive. Also to ensure that while operating, the wind turbine type in question does not impact on the health and safety of domestic animals, people or property. The Machinery Directive states, that the material used in machinery must be robust enough not to breakup while operating. The question must be asked why Donegal County Council did not forward a copy of this report to The Health and Safety Authority, the organisation responsible, to check the adequacy of the machine types CE Certification and its compliance with The Machinery Directive? “Section 1.3.2 Risk of break up during operation The various parts of machinery and their linkages must be able to withstand the stresses to which they are subject when used. The durability of the materials used must be adequate for the nature of the working environment foreseen by the manufacturer or his authorized representative, in particular as regards the phenomena of fatigue, ageing, corrosion and abrasion” This section of the... read more

Doubtful intent in Minister’s review

Minister Kelly’s announcement on Sunday 26th July of an organisational review of An Bord Pleanala to ensure that it is appropriately positioned to meet future challenges has had a mixed response. The Bord was established in 1976 and this will be effectively the first time in its forty year history that it will have been subject to such a review. The terms of reference for the review do not in any way indicate that this review is intended to make the workings of The Bord more transparent or that the review will do anything to dispel public disquiet at how it reaches its decisions. In subsequent media interviews following his announcement of the planned review, the Minister commented on the number of litigation proceedings taken against decisions of The Bord, but again the terms of reference give no indication as to how this review can address the reasons for that increase in litigation. While the terms of reference comment on the increase in litigation in the area of The Bord’s work and seek measures required to address these, I cannot see any meaningful possibilities within those terms of reference that will affect change. The level of discretion afforded to The Bord in making determinations is a serious flaw in its remit. While The Bord has played a very important role in regulating planning in its forty years of existence and it should be acknowledged that it acted as a curtailment for even worse excesses during the Celtic Tiger boom years, its role in determining applications for wind farms and how it fulfills its obligations in undertaking Environmental Impact Assessments is... read more

The Hughes Energy Initiative –

Saving Ireland Billions via Deep Building Retrofits. The EU has rightly stated that the energy that buildings consume represents the greatest potential for saving energy. In its Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) it has set two targets for energy reduction in buildings – 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Probably even more important from a climate change point of view is this will reduce Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 11 Million Tonnes (11MtCO2). These are substantial reductions and while nobody would argue with the intent behind this initiative, the ‘elephant in the room’ of course is how are we going to pay for this? Well over €30 Billion of funding is available from Ireland’s current response to a previous EU ‘challenge’ the so called ‘NREAP’ or National Renewable Energy Action Plan from 2009. The NREAP has spawned a series of very costly and divisive projects including Grid25, Wind farms, Interconnectors, Sub Stations and Fast Response Gas Power Stations. Some of you may know that NREAP seeks to provide 40% of Ireland’s electricity via wind energy but how many know the cost of this both financially and also the unintended consequences of loss of visual amenity and social divisiveness in areas where these pylons and wind turbines will be located? To date most commentators have said that while these projects do have negative effects they ask ‘what is the alternative?’ Well the alternative is we can divert investment from the remainder of the NREAP projects into the new EED 2030 and 2050 targets and achieve all three project objectives including NREAP in one step. Put very simply and in very round numbers the... read more

Wind Energy – What’s happening?

“Wind Turbines – Hasn’t all that gone away now?” No! And here’s why All of us at Wind Aware Ireland are involved in local wind awareness groups and this is one of the most common reactions we get. That, and ‘they’ll be miles away so I’m not bothered’ and ‘you’re only wasting your time, its going to happen anyway’, but these last two are a whole different article. Why is the perception out there among so many people that this issue has gone away? It’s all down to Pat Rabbitte’s disingenuous press release entitled ‘Midlands Energy Export Project will not go ahead’, and poor reporting in a lot of the media. This release was made on 13 April with two express intentions: to torpedo the Anti-Turbine/Pylon march in Dublin on 15 April, which it manifestly failed to do; and to take the heat out of this issue for Labour/Fine Gael candidates in the election. That didn’t work either. That press release was disingenuous because, although he does say “delivery by 2020 of a Midlands Wind Export Project is not now a realistic proposition” due to failure to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement, he goes on to say “greater trade in energy between Britain and Ireland is inevitable in the post 2020 scenario.” So, perhaps the timing may change but it sounds like it’s definitely going ahead to me. It’s disappointing that most journalists seemed unable to read past the headline when reporting this and have ended up misleading people which is probably what Mr Rabbitte intended all along. In response, Element Power, on it’s Greenwire website “expressed it’s surprise” and went... read more

Building a monster –

Good intentions and vested interests make bad bedfellows. There is no doubt that plans for renewables came from a well meaning place. We are facing global warming, according to many scientists, and much of it caused by our actions.  Even if we weren’t there are many good reasons to reduce our emissions and become less dependent on oil and gas, after all it will eventually run out! In addition, the rise of despots such as Putin in Russia and al-Assad in Syria, make our leaders distinctly nervous about reliable supplies. In Ireland, the push for renewables is within the remit of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) who are quite clear that there are three goals in energy policy; energy security, cost competitiveness and protection of the environment through the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Their report ‘Renewable Energy in Ireland 2012’ published February 2014 analysed the contribution of renewables to Ireland’s energy requirements from 1990 to 2012. What they fail to mention however, is that the current chairman Brendan Halligan also sits on the board of, and owns shares in Mainstream Renewables, one of the largest wind farms developers in the state! Our energy consumption and emissions come from of three sources – heat, transport and electricity, electricity accounting for about 20% of overall energy use. It is important to keep in mind that when we discuss wind energy it is usually within the context of electricity use only and not the 80% of energy used by heat and transport. Another massive contributor to GHG emissions is agriculture at 29% of all emissions, with methane from flatulent... read more

The Social Network and Groupthink

Groupthink – “a psychological phenomenon in which people strive for consensus within a group  by setting aside their own personal beliefs. Those opposed to the decisions or overriding opinion of the group as a whole frequently remain quiet, preferring to keeping the peace rather than disrupt the uniformity of the crowd.” An example of groupthink was our Celtic Tiger boom and bust where the combination of light touch regulation, tax breaks and a cosy relationship between government and developers created a building boom that was totally unsustainable. This resulted in major financial, environmental and social crises still affecting our country. Parallels can be drawn to the current renwable energy plans: The close relationships and ties between charismatic characters such as Mainstream Renewable’s Eddie O’Connor and SEAI’s Brendan Halligan. The dismissal by Pat Rabbitte of opposition to renewable energy plans. The ‘revolving door’ whereby executives from Eirgrid and wind developers leave one organisation  in to take up office in another. The ‘revolving door’  whereby officers from An Bord Pleanála bring their inside experience of planning to Eirgrid and wind developers. Chairman of SEAI, Brendan Halligan, straddling both camps, owning shares in, and sitting on the board of Mainstream Renewables- a blatant conflict of interest. Many executives of Eirgrid and wind developers have worked together in the ESB, Airtricity, Bord Na Móna and other semi states, and also have strong political links to parties currently in government. The National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP ) and Grid 25 are plans hatched at the very height of our Celtic Tiger boom and are indicative of the type of thinking of that time.... read more

Lets stick to facts and evidence

A Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland report launched in February this year, estimated that wind was saving Ireland 2.3 % from total fuel imports per annum, of the €6.5 billion spent on fuel imports. This 2.3% saving did not include any fuel used in spinning reserve which is likely to have reduced that estimated saving to well below 2% and possibly even less than 1%.  How do we know this? Wind is intermittent; it produces little or no electricity for about 70% of the time. For the 30% of the time when the wind does blow, coal and gas plants continue to run in the background ready to come in on short notice when the wind dies. This permanent back up is called plant cycling or Spinning Reserve. Spinning reserve can quarter claimed fuel savings, this was one of the findings from the Fred Udo study which examined the Irish system and is unique in that it deals with real outputs and is not based on industry models or projections. This small saving of most likely between 1 and 2 % has come on the back of 20 years and several billion euros of investment as well as 1,200 turbines and a substantial investment in the grid to cater for and balance this intermittent and dispersed power. It is also likely that further wind development will yield little or zero C02 reductions as the law of diminishing returns will apply. The Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) has accused Wind Aware Ireland of using inaccurate information. However, this information comes directly from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, a body closely... read more

Wind is not the only option

Renewable Energy Sources of Electricity (RES-E) – Wind is not the only option. Dr. Anthony White gave an interesting investigation into the currently prevailing ideology that wind energy is the only solution to meeting our renewable electricity target of 40% for 2020. His contention was that wind is not the only option, that there are credible alternatives to wind and that it is not too late for Ireland to change its policy and investigate the alternatives in time for 2020. Dr. White began by noting that from 2000 to date, Ireland has made a massive switch from reliance on coal and peat sourced electricity to natural gas. He commended Ireland’s CO2 savings in doing so. He pointed out that since the recession began in 2008, electricity consumption in Ireland has reduced dramatically. Due to this reduction, no new electricity generating plants or turbines are actually required to satisfy demand within the Irish market. Were it not for EU directives on the quantity of renewables used to generate electricity we would not need to worry about the status-quo in national electricity production. On the subject of “spinning reserve” (the backup required within any electricity generation network), Dr. White highlighted that a network operator needs to build-in as much spinning reserve as its largest infeed into the network. This is required to prevent black-outs and guarantee consistency of supply in case of failure of that infeed. Because wind is not despatchable (i.e. it cannot be switched on as required) the network has to match the wind supply with spinning reserve. The example given was the event of maximum demand on a still day:... read more

Rebuttal of wind industry

A rebuttal of the wind industries claims made at Engineers Ireland presentation May 2014 By Owen Martin At the Q&A session following Dr.Anthony White’s presentation at Engineers Ireland last Wednesday, a number of points were made by the wind lobby in an attempt to disprove Dr.White’s assertion that there was a 20% limit on the amount of wind energy that could be accommodated by the grid. An SSE Airtricity Representative claimed that wind energy could power 100% of Ireland’s electricity needs. This is a ridiculous statement as Airtricity are investing in gas plants themselves e.g. Great Island CCGT, so the idea that Airtricity are interested in closing conventional plant, as this statement implies, is false.  It is also a technical impossibility. Dalkia VPP, a demand side unit operator, state that “as the amount of renewable generation increases, the TSOs will need to keep higher levels of operating reserve available”. With increased levels of wind penetration in the system, Eirgrid cannot shut down back-up plant without replacing it with new back-up because, as stated in their 2007 Adequacy Report, “there is a significant risk that a single source of failure (i.e. very low or very high wind speeds across the country) will result in all wind farms producing practically no output for a number of hours even allowing for geographic diversity”. New fossil fuel plants are being commissioned at present. Tarbert heavy oil plant was due to close last year but will now remain open as Eirgrid realise that large amounts of spinning reserve is essential to keep the lights on. An Eirgrid Representative claimed that Eirgrid welcome more wind... read more

Wind Turbine Land Options

Do farmers realise what they have signed up for? With many hundreds, if not thousands, of land option agreements signed in the Midlands are farmers fully aware of the extent of the restrictions they have placed on their property? And is the payoff worth it? Solicitor Nora Fagan’s article on the matter in April’s Law Gazette was very illuminating. If I were a signed-up farmer and wasn’t worried before, I would be now. The main points raised by her are presented here. The words and interpretation are mine. Option duration and restrictions Option agreements are usually for a minimum of five years and can often be extended to ten years. What many farmers failed to realise when they received the hard-sell from the developers was that often their entire folio is subject to the option, not just the original field that the developer might have identified as their preferred site for the turbine. This means that in theory the developer could construct the turbine anywhere they want on the farm, subject to planning constraints. Many options have clauses preventing a disposition or a transmission of land without the prior consent of the developer. This in effect means that the farmer cannot lease, mortgage or gift land without the permission of the developer. Nora Fagan cites one case of a farmer prevented by the developer from transferring a site to his son. Option/Lease assignment It’s common practice for developers to sell on parcels of options before even a single turbine has been built. The farmer would have no say in this transaction and it effectively means that he could end... read more

Wind Energy– The Science Bit!

For many of us the wind/pylon debate has been an eye opener on many levels. For me, in my naivety, the level of lobbying power of big business and the absence of real evidence informed debate is staggering. I knew of course that spin (excuse the pun!) exists in decision making but surely once the facts are presented to decision makers they’d change their mind?!…as I said, naive! We have all had to educate ourselves, in the absence of leadership, on issues we previously knew nothing about and have trawled through technical reports and economic analysis which are by no means light bedtime reading! In this series of blogs I hope to give my understanding of some of the key reports which inform the stance of Wind Aware Ireland and many other wind and pylon campaigners and which I believe completely undermine the sustainability of wind energy and associated grid upgrades from and economic and environmental point of view. The first two reports we’ll have a look at are Joe Wheatley’s paper ‘Quantifying CO2 savings from wind power.’ published in the journal ‘Energy Policy’ in 2013 and the analysis ‘Wind Energy in the Irish Power System’ by Fred Udo published online in 2011. Most analyses of wind energy use assumptions and projections to come to conclusion. That is the nature of these types of studies. So, if the wind blows at a particular strength for a particular period and if conventional generation of electricity runs at a lower rate for this period then the CO2 or fuel import savings will be X. What is interesting about both these studies... read more

Mount Lucas July 2014

As the construction of turbines nears completion, you really get a sense of being overpowered by these giants, in what has become something akin to an alien landscape. Currently 22 turbines have been fully erected, with most of the remaining turbine towers in varying stages of construction. On the evening of 14 June 2014, eleven of the turbines were operating. There was a light breeze at ground level, but with obviously enough wind at altitude to turn the rotar blades. Again the noise was clearly audible – I liken it to the drone of a swarm of beetles which I recall from New Zealand. These beetles grow in the ground, then when they reach the adult stage they take flight in great swarms. The sound is at the same time distant and right inside your head, and there is no getting away from it – it is constant and unrelenting. We had to put up with it for only a few hours at a time, but can you imagine that feeling 24 hours a day? Up until recently the biggest visual impact had been along the western and southern borders of the site. With more turbines having been built the extent of the visual impact has widened greatly, with the houses on the northern and eastern borders of the site now dwarfed by the turbines. In the past few days I have visited some of the houses closest to the site. It really is an oppressive sight with several turbines towering in the background. Having spoken to a few people living in the shadow of the turbines you really... read more

The facts behind the figures

Albert Einstein’s thoughts on 40% wind energy! Einstein reportedly had a sign on the door of his office which declared “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can  be counted counts”! This in a nut shell describes the concept of cost benefit analysis (CBA). CBA is not difficult to get one’s head around, we all perform CBAs all the time. In order to make a decision, whether it is to have that extra slice of cake or to take the washing off the line because it might rain, we weigh up the pros and cons and come to some conclusion. The broad purpose of CBA is to help social decision making and make it more rational. When you think of it, if it were used systematically, it would also counter the malignant culture of lobbying power of big business; decisions would have to be evidence based. In this instance a CBA should have been undertaken to ascertain of Ireland’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP)  of providing 40% of our electricity from renewable sources, mainly wind, represents a net benefit to Ireland or if, in fact its costs outweigh its benefits. So how does a CBA work? “A CBA attempts to evaluate on a monetary scale, the costs and benefits of all ‘marketed’ and ‘unmarketed’ consequences of projects and to estimate the net social benefit.” In plain English that means that CBA must consider costs and benefits which may have a value to society but whose value, in money terms, might not have been calculated, for example, the value we place on our landscape or... read more

Wind Energy – A pattern emerges

Wind Energy Development in other countries – An Overview Given that the Irish Government proposes to develop 28,000MW and beyond of wind-derived electricity in Ireland over the coming years,  it surely behoves policymakers here to look at the experiences of other countries with regard to wind energy development. I have been researching the experiences of Australia, Canada, Denmark and Germany  in this regard and in many respects, the experimentation with wind power in each of these countries has been an unmitigated social and financial catastrophe, the sole benefactors invariably being the Developers. Billions of taxpayer’s money has been squandered in these countries; electricity bills have skyrocketed as customers pay absurdly inflated prices for inefficient and unreliable wind power which still has to be backed up by fossil-fuel energy; clusters of debilitating health symptoms which are consistent internationally seem to follow the wind turbines; residents have been forced from their homes in all of these countries; non-existent environmental benefits as highlighted by peer-reviewed research and communities severed as neighbour turns against neighbour by the leasing of land to Developers to erect turbines. In all of these countries, the wind power saga is a tale of greed and phony environmentalism overpowering rural interests.  However, the tide is turning as some of these countries have now openly acknowledged the many problems wrought by their renewable energy transitions.  Last year, the German Minister for Economics and Energy, Sigmar Gabriel admitted that Germany’s Energiewende Project had come with a hefty price tag for consumers. He spoke of how close Germany was to “the failure of the energy transformation” and stated “The truth is that... read more

Rethink!

Why Grid25 is madness and Biomass is a serious alternative to wind. We at Wind Aware Ireland spent some time thinking about our name and identity. We liked ‘People before Profit’ but someone took it! We wanted to reflect our core beliefs and the fact that we are looking at the bigger picture issues of overall energy policy in Ireland and abroad. We are calling on government to rethink and evaluate its current flawed energy free for all (I’ll desist calling it a ‘policy’). So another really good name came up – ‘Rethink’….. again, it was taken! Rethink Pylons are a similar organisation to our own who were galvanised by the proposed upgrade to the national grid via the Grid25 project. Like us, they too have come to realise that the whole energy strategy needs revision and independent analysis. As no such analysis was forthcoming from our glorious leaders, Rethink commissioned their own. BW Energy is a specialised energy consultancy providing ‘strategic, financial, regulatory and policy advice in decarbonising energy markets.’ and comprises Dr. Anthony White and Malcolm Brown and their team. Dr. White is a physicist by trade and has over 35 years’ experience in the energy sector, working as an energy analyst for investment banks and as head of strategy for the British National Grid Group. He is actively involved in UK energy and power market policy participating in numerous UK Government advisory bodies. Malcolm Brown has over twenty seven years’ experience of the energy sector and low carbon economy from capital markets analytical and strategy consulting roles at a senior level. His energy sector analytical roles... read more

Wind energy in Slovenia

Different country, same story. Lip service to public consultation, attempts to buy off communities, health and environmental impacts ignored and blatant disregard for community concerns. This is the first of three guest posts from a Slovenian wind awareness group, the Civil Initiative for the Protection of Senožeška Brda(http://www.senozeska-brda.si/). Slovenia is about one quarter of the size of Ireland and currently has virtually no wind energy. But already there are strong parallels with our own experience – lip service to public consultation, attempts to buy off communities, health and environmental impacts ignored and blatant disregard for community concerns. PART 1: WIND ENERGY IN SLOVENIA The future plans of our government is to build a wind factory in our region (Senožeče and nearby villages) in Slovenia. There is a bad national policy as far as wind energy is concerned in Slovenia. There are even no laws encompassing wind turbines (turbines) and what is even worse the Noise Act and all our legislation do not mention turbines.  Besides, our Noise Act does not recognize low-frequency sound and infrasound as noise at all (only dBA measurements). So when the noise measurements were done here, they showed that turbines were not disturbing. Yet, they are disturbing and harmful to health. There are two big turbines in Slovenia: The first one (Enercon E70 2.3 MW, hub height 98 m, rotor diameter 71 m) is situated on a hill approximately 1km away from the residents at Dolenja vas near Senožeče (all in the Municipality of Divača). The second one (Enercon E44 0.9 MW, hub height 55 m, rotor diameter 44 m) is located only 300 m... read more

Denmark – Wind Turbine Exports

Denmark is the world’s largest exporter of wind turbines Wind mills for agricultural purposes have been popular in Denmark for centuries. But in the wake of the alleged “oil crisis” in 1973 a small firm in North West Jutland commenced the development of wind turbines for the production of electricity. For several years they produced 1 – 10 kW of electricity which was used primarily on local farms, often without any grid connection. This turned out to be a success. The first 1 MW and 2MW wind turbines were not erected until 1996/97 and these have become more popular in the years since 1998, with 80 erected so far in 2014 alone. Today there are about 119 2MW active onshore wind turbines, still in operation. The first onshore 3 MW turbines were erected in 2002. Now there are about 119 of them, of which 5 were built in 2014. A 4MW turbine was also erected in 2014 and a 6MW turbine was erected in 2012, only to be decommissioned in 2013. In Denmark, wind “parks” or “farms” are typically small groups of three to four turbines. The biggest onshore wind farm, currently in planning, will have 22 wind turbines of 2.3MW capacity. Overall there are about 5 230 active on- and offshore wind turbines in Denmark. Of these about 4.730 are onshore and about 500 are offshore (Figure 1). The same register notes about 2 660 decommissioned turbines since 1977. However in 2013 about 10 wind tubines (> 1 MW) erected since about 2011 have already been decommissioned. As can be seen from Figure 4, most of the wind... read more

Slovenia – Wind energy part 2

This is the second of three guest posts from the Slovenian wind awareness group the Civil Initiative for the Protection of Senožeška Brda, this time concentrating on the region’s beautiful, unique and protected landscape and architecture. The Municipality of Divača promotes our Karst region as a region of an untouched and unique nature where people, animals and their surroundings live and breathe in harmony with the unique nature and therefore protects natural and cultural heritage with vast forests and typical and unique Karst features. The untouched location provides shelter for numerous endangered species and types of animals and plants; that is why the Natura 2000 network comprises as much as 54% of the territory, which is the largest in Slovenia. Park Škocjanske Jame caves Establishment (the Škocjan Caves – see link: http://www.park-skocjanske-jame.si/eng/) is also against the wind turbine power stations anywhere in our region. Škocjan Caves The park is located in the influential region of the planned turbines. Due to its amazing natural beauty its enlisted on the UNESCO World Heritage. There are some people there who are not aware of one fact therefore it is worth warning that the proposal for enlisting the Slovenian Classic Karst to the World Heritage UNESCO List as one of the most genuine and typical examples of the Karst area in the whole world has already been made (see link: http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/590/). The fact is that Senožeška brda / Divača / Karst are located very close to each other. We could say that Senozeska Brda are on the edge of our genuine Karst, nevertheless the situation is more complicated therefore we are trying to... read more

Slovenian Wind Energy – Part 3

Public opinion canvassed then promptly ignored, people who question wind energy branded as cranks. It could just as easily be Ireland but it’s not, its Slovenia. Same issues, different country. At the beginning people´s opinions were really divided; some of them were for turbines (mostly landowners), others against. At the beginning almost everybody was for it because it was claimed to be green energy and everybody who was against it was immediately labelled as a nuclear lobbyist or an old-fashioned person. But recently the situation has changed; more and more people are becoming aware that this »GREEN ENERY« would destroy everything. However, some people are still afraid and hence do not want to expose themselves because of the possibility of job losses, etc. Some land is owned by state, but the majority is of the landowners. In one village there are people who are terrorized and manipulated by the chairman of their agrarian community. And in fear they signed everything. On the other hand in other villages there are some people who believe they will get a lot of money and are therefore for wind factories, no matter what, but once again, in all those villages the majority is against it. Of course there is a bribe as well. The promoters for turbines went from house to house, from person to person bringing gifts and speaking sweet promising words. Together they established a Civil Initiative FOR WIND FARMS and collected signatures from some naive people, wrote a petition for turbines and took it directly to the Ministry for Infrastructure and Spatial Planning. Poster on the house of one of... read more

Rethink!

Why Grid25 is madness and Biomass is a serious alternative to wind. We at Wind Aware Ireland spent some time thinking about our name and identity. We liked ‘People before Profit’ but someone took it! We wanted to reflect our core beliefs and the fact that we are looking at the bigger picture issues of overall energy policy in Ireland and abroad. We are calling on government to rethink and evaluate its current flawed energy free for all (I’ll desist calling it a ‘policy’). So another really good name came up – ‘Rethink’….. again, it was taken! Rethink Pylons are a similar organisation to our own who were galvanised by the proposed upgrade to the national grid via the Grid25 project. Like us, they too have come to realise that the whole energy strategy needs revision and independent analysis. As no such analysis was forthcoming from our glorious leaders, Rethink commissioned their own. BW Energy is a specialised energy consultancy providing ‘strategic, financial, regulatory and policy advice in decarbonising energy markets.’ and comprises Dr. Anthony White and Malcolm Brown and their team. Dr. White is a physicist by trade and has over 35 years’ experience in the energy sector, working as an energy analyst for investment banks and as head of strategy for the British National Grid Group. He is actively involved in UK energy and power market policy participating in numerous UK Government advisory bodies. Malcolm Brown has over twenty seven years’ experience of the energy sector and low carbon economy from capital markets analytical and strategy consulting roles at a senior level. His energy sector analytical roles... read more

Press Release – An Bord Pleanála

A funeral for citizens rights, will be held at An Bord Pleanála’s office on Thursday 9th April at 11am. Press Release – Start An Bord Pleanála are using the threat of huge legal bills to bully community groups who oppose wind or grid projects. This is a denial of access to justice for citizens and in clear breach of the Aarhus convention. The European Commission is currently investigating these issues. It is actively preparing a case against the Irish Government  on access to justice on environmental matters. However,  An Bord Pleanála carry on regardless, arrogant in the confidence that they will have delivered for Government before the European Commission investigation takes hold. One third of the nine-member board of An Bord Pleanála (ABP) have direct links to the wind/renewable industry while the former Chairman of ABP is now head of Eirgrid. The potential conflicts of interests of three members of the Bord are alarming and call into question the impartiality of decisions being made. Additionally, An Bord Pleanála are also ignoring a raft of European directives on environmental protection. A measure of this failure is that 75% of all wind applications in 2014 are now in the high court. Behind each one of these cases, is an entire community under duress, terrified that they will be forced to live in the shadow of pylons or wind turbines. Groups now believe that An Bord Pleanála are merely a mechanism for forcing through this government’s flawed energy policy where, in return for a spend of €13 billion, it seems we will have one of the highest electricity prices in Europe, achieve minuscule savings in CO2 emissions and fail to reach our 20/20 targets. A protest will be held at An Bord Pleanála office in Dublin... read more

Communities Under Attack

Developers, Planning System And Judicial System Conspire To Lay Seige To Local Communities, Nationwide Dave Fingleton, weary from his own community’s defence in the High Court, wonders what happened to the conventions that were supposed to protect the environment and the rights of those concerned about protecting it. In a nutshell, the United Nations’ Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992)* declares that the Environment belongs to the people and not to the government. Principle 10 specifically states: “States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.” Further to this was the Aarhus Convention (1998)** which takes a rights-based approach: the public, both present and future generations, have the right to live in a healthy environment and to participate in and challenge decisions that may affect that environment. Implementing Aarhus primarily through Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and public participation directives, Europe (and indeed Ireland itself as a party to the convention) has guaranteed these rights to public participation in decision making and access to the courts and justice in environmental matters. For context, Article 3 of the Convention states: “1. Each Party shall take the necessary legislative, regulatory and other measures, including measures to achieve compatibility between the provisions implementing the information, public participation and access-to-justice provisions in this Convention, as well as proper enforcement measures, to establish and maintain a clear, transparent and consistent framework to implement the provisions of this Convention.” So much for the theory: what we have observed happening in practice paints... read more

The powers of Bord Pleanala

In the following summary of the role of An Bord Pleanala and how it determines applications for wind farms I propose to rely on the interpretation of the Courts of that role. The Bord being a statutory body is given its powers and its obligations under the Planning Acts and must have regard to Government Policy. While much criticised it is my opinion that it has functioned extremely well over the many years of its existence. I have been dealing with planning across many areas for the past seventeen years with a particular interest in wind farms. I would have to say this body has conducted itself to a very high standard over those years and while it is criticised from all sections, it generally tends to get things right. Where it is found wanting as it has been on occasions by the Courts it has acted promptly to correct these deficits. Where it comes into conflict with those of us who are opposing wind farms generally comes about through the restrictive nature of the Government’s strategic approach to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan. Recent decisions of the High Court in wind related matters include O’Grianna v An Bord Pleanala, Kelly v The Bord, and Ratheniska Judgement. Under Section 143 of the 2000 Planning Act The Bord in carrying out its functions is obliged to have regard to the Policies and Objectives of Government. This includes the Guidelines for wind Farm Development 2006, The Renewable Energy Action Plan and the Directive for the Promotion of Energy from Renewable Resources. The presumption of the Department of Environment and National... read more

Wind Turbine Syndrome

Lobbying from the wind industry could be likened to lobbying from the tobacco industry in the 1950s. We are now fully aware of the hazards of smoking tobacco but how long before our government stop accepting lobbying from the industry and wake up to the hazards of living near wind turbines? “When a mistake is repeated, it is not a mistake anymore…it is a decision”- Paolo Coelho. In the 1950’s, the tobacco lobby used medical professionals to insist that there was no medical evidence of harm from tobacco products. Indeed one advertisement, supported by research conducted by physicians, declared that “Phillip Morris” brand tobacco eased irritated throats and “every case of irritation cleared completely or definitely improved.” Phillip Morris soon became a major brand. The tobacco lobby in the 1950’s could be compared to the powerful wind industry lobby today. Despite the growing body of peer-reviewed research demonstrating that wind turbines can cause serious adverse health effects in susceptible nearby residents, the wind lobby and Governments continue to dismiss this evidence. However, in a recent groundbreaking study at Pacific Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater wind farm in the state of Victoria, Australia’s leading acoustical engineer Steven Cooper found that a unique infrasound pattern, which he had labelled “Wind Turbine Signature” in previous studies, correlates (through a “trend line”) with the occurrence and severity of symptoms of residents who had complained of often-unbearable “sensations”. These include sleep disturbance, headaches, heart racing, pressure in the head, ears or chest, etc. as described by the residents (symptoms generally known as Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS), or the euphemism “noise annoyance”). The acoustician also identified “discrete low... read more

5 year battle – Dysart windfarm

Local community forced to raise €100k to protect their village. Despite approvals from both their County Council and An Bord Pleanála, a High Court judicial review found in their favour. Over 5 years ago Galetech Energy Developments Limited had signed up local farmers in secret to make their lands available for the construction of large wind turbines. Some people in the community picked up the signal that their rural, farming community was about to be turned into an industrial estate with 35 wind turbines of 135M high across two developments, both North and South of the village. At a public meeting a committee was formed and that was the start of a 5 year long battle against the development. The committee hired various consultants to validate their concerns. Although an excellent case was built against the development and the fact that the committee had the support from the elected members of Roscommon County Council, the County Council still decided to grant planning permission for both developments. It was felt by the committee that the consultations and the invited submissions were just “tick-box” exercises. The committee, along with the Department of Arts Heritage and Gaeltacht and other concerned residents appealed the Council’s decision to An Bord Pleanála. Despite the Bord’s own inspectors recommending a refusal for both developments, An Bord Pleanála decided to grant planning permission for both developments. The committee maintained that an Appropriate Assessment, removing all reasonable scientific doubt that the developments had no negative impact on neighbouring Natura 2000 sites, had not been carried out. With the support of the Department, the “committee” in the person of... read more

Is this a landmark case?

The Grid connection in O’Grianna v An Bord Pleanala. The Judgement in this case is highly significant for anyone with an interest in opposing wind farm developments and in appreciating the scope and level of discretion that the various Acts provide to An Bord Pleanala. The Community of Derragh appealed the decision of Cork County Council to grant permission to the applicants, Framore Ltd., on the 18th June 2013 subject to 28 conditions, for the erection of 6 turbines at 156m in height in an area of outstanding natural beauty and with a rich cultural heritage. An Bord Pleanala upheld the decision of Cork County Council to grant permission, with a reduction in the number of conditions attached to the permission to 17, on the 14th November 2013. The Community were granted leave for a Judicial Review seeking a declaration that the Board in making it’s decision failed to carry out a proper Environmental Impact Assessment in accordance with the provisions of Section 172 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended, and as interpreted in accordance with the obligations imposed by Article 3 of Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the affects of certain public and private projects on the environment. Noise The Community in their application to the Court sought to establish that the Board had failed to comply with its obligations in relation to Environmental Impact Assessment, that the Board’s assessment was a flawed assessment and was not in accordance with its obligations under the Act. Of particular concern to the Community was the decision by the Board to impose noise limits without carrying out... read more

Cheap Wind Energy

Putting paid to the lie that wind energy is a cheap source of electricity Current wind expansion plans could cost consumers at least €1.1bn through fixed price contracts, constraint payments and additional PSO levy charges. Like so many claims issued by the Wind lobby, it sounded good at the time, but was based on a utopian vision rather than any proper “real world” analysis.   There are three elements that relate to wind energy that make up the average electricity bill: 1) Cost of wind power generated – This is paid from the market operated by SEM-O (Single Electricity Market Operator). However, rather than having to compete with other generators in a free market, wind energy gets a fixed price plus a further 15%, in effect a subsidy. In 2013 in the Republic, wind farms received a total of €277 million from the market. This works out at about €174,000 per MW of installed wind. If the plans to install another 2,200MW of wind go ahead, wind energy will cost circa €660 million per year. 2) Constraint payments – These are payments made to wind farms when they produce too much power for the grid to take. Currently, there is a combined limit for wind energy and imported power of 50% of demand at any given time. Exact figures are not made publicly available, but a wind industry representative acknowledged that these payments amount to roughly 39% of total power taken by the grid. Based on this figure, these payments amounted to € 108 million in 2013, an average of € 67,000 per MW of installed wind. But given the limit... read more