A brief overview of the core issues
Under current non-binding Irish guidelines, turbines of any height can be constructed within 500 metres of a dwelling house. The guidelines leave a quarter of Ireland’s land mass available for development and fail to protect Irish families.
The wind turbines currently being constructed and proposed in Ireland range from 130 metres to 185 metres in height, with some possibly extending to 210 metres. The SEAI predict that turbines will exceed heights of 300 metres by 2020.
Impacts on Wildlife
Ireland’s land and waterways are rich in flora and fauna, including protected species such as red squirrel, and otters. Wind farms will have an impact on these habitats in addition to posing a significant threat to birds and aquatic life.
Pylons and Grid 25
Eirgrid are responsible for the Irish electricity grid. Grid 25 is the planned upgrade of the grid, largely designed to support renewable energy, particularly wind. This upgrade is forecast to cost €3.2 billion.
Wind energy must be permanently supported by reliable power sources, usually gas turbines. When the costs of these are included, electricity produced by wind becomes expensive affecting national competitiveness and fuel poverty.
Wind energy has implications for our economy. It impacts national competitiveness and due to the scale of developments, indigneous industries. An independent Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) is required to ascertain the true costs and benefits.
Proximity to wind turbines devalues property, the extent of which depends on the proximity to the nearest turbine and height of the turbines. This loss has been shown by international studies, to be between 11% to 40% within 2km.
Wind is an intermittent source of energy and requires permanent backup from conventional sources of energy for when the wind does not blow. Wind energy therefore has a limited effect on CO2 emissions if this ‘spinning reserve’ is considered.
Wind turbines have been associated with adverse health effects in susceptible people, including those with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). These effects may be caused by noise, infrasound, shadow flicker as well as electro-magnetic radiation from associated power lines.
European citizens are entitled to public participation in decision making regarding the environment. EU law acknowledges that sustainable development can only be achieved through the involvement of all stakeholders at all stages of the planning process.
The wind industry’s claims of job creation has not taken into account the displacement of jobs in areas such as tourism and the thermal power generation industry. Estimates have ignored the jobs lost because of more expensive electricity and increased taxes.