Local Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy has said the guidelines surrounding wind farm developments are outdated and ill-informed and he has called on the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten to ensure that the new guidelines are finalised as quickly as possible.
Commenting on the issue Eugene Murphy TD said “I raised the ongoing problems and issues of the Sliabh Bán wind farm with Minister Naughten in the Dáil last week. I stressed that the current guidelines are out of kilter with the needs of local people. There are huge difficulties with noise and the public are not happy- the noise factor can be extremely annoying for people and there is no buy in for the local community into the present system- pressure needs to be maintained on Minister Naughten as he is at the Cabinet table and he needs to deliver on the new wind farm guidelines.
“The legislation and regulation of planning surrounding wind farms needs to be updated as a matter of urgency and the setback area should be set at least 1000m to 1500m from any residence- We have a Minister at the cabinet table in this constituency- the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten needs to deliver on the issue of legislation and regulation surrounding wind farms,” said Deputy Murphy.
Speaking in the Dáil chamber last week Deputy Murphy said: “I have argued for a long time that the stipulations and guidelines in place are out of kilter with the needs of people and their way of life. Coillte must start giving something back and this is one area where we could do something.
The Sliabh Bán wind farm was established under the old guidelines. I hope the Minister will be able to address the issues causing dissatisfaction in the community, including wind turbine noise and their size. As an advocate of wind power, I am not happy with the current structure as it does not provide a good method for dealing with local communities which, in turn, do not buy into wind power. While noise is not an issue for some people, it upsets and annoys others. The Minister should ensure Coillte holds regular meetings with community groups and considers new ideas. The issue of providing local communities with a wind turbine to meet their electricity needs is not new. The practice has been adopted elsewhere in Europe, including Scotland, and it works perfectly well.
Eugene Murphy went on to say “When this development was proposed in 2011, no more than the Minister, I had many discussions with Coillte officials about giving a turbine to the community, the tourism project on Sliabh Bawn, which will be massive, and other issues. However, people have been affected by noise and by the development of the wind farm and they are unhappy. The wind farm is subject to the old guidelines and it is extremely important that the Minister and, indeed, all Oireachtas Members, acknowledge and accept that there is a huge difficulty with this project. We must acknowledge that people are unhappy. I fully understand that we are way behind in our renewable energy targets and 2020 is approaching. There will be massive fines on the State, which will fall back on the taxpayer. This development, however, cannot be undertaken on the backs of people who are unhappy. We must consult people and listen to their concerns.”
“There are 250 wind farms in the country and the Minister needs to publish the guidelines and to meet people who are concerned. We need to examine their ideas and engage with them. The day of Coillte throwing a few euro to the community is gone and I ask the Minister to challenge Coillte to deal with that issue and to ensure communities get a fair crack of the whip. We cannot have Coillte monitoring its own noise levels. ,” concluded Deputy Murphy.