Groups opposed to planned wind farms, power line pylons and sub-stations throughout the country came together last week in a bid to mount a “joined up and vigorous campaign”.
Over 200 groups were represented, including members of the Midland Alliance, who are campaigning against the erection of wind farms in the region, including proposed developments in the Legan and Rathowen areas.
“It was a very positive meeting,” Daryl Connolly of the Midland Alliance said when contacted by this paper. “There has been huge coverage of this issue in recent weeks, especially in relation to the pylons.”
Mr Connolly explained that the various campaigns decided to come together when “the dots began to join that the wind farms and pylons are interlinked. The doubling of the grid is to facilitiate wind power.
“There is an incredible amount of spin regarding wind power, especially on the issue of power export,” Mr Connolly continued. “About 3,000-4,000 megawatts are required to meet Pat Rabbitte’s 2020 targets for renewable energy. Bord na Móna and others are providing 10,000 megawatts.”
According to Mr Connolly, if the proposed new wind farms came on stream, it would leave 14,000 megawatts for export. However, he says trouble lies ahead for these investor-led projects.
“Subsidies are going down and it’s beginning to look similar to the housing bubble,” he claimed.
Mr Connolly said that the new partnership is currently putting together a mission statement and has not ruled out running candidates in the upcoming local and European elections.
“We have no plans to run local election candidates at the moment but it’s something that could be looked at when we meet again to form our strategy.”
Meanwhile, Labour TD for Longford-Westmeath, Willie Penrose, has voiced his support for the protest groups.
In a statement released on Thursday last, Deputy Penrose said: “In the context of the volumnious submissions made during the course of the public consultation process for the €500 million Grid Link Project, which totalled in expcess of 35,000, and with many thousands of submissions likely to be submitted to the Department of the Environment in relation to planning criteria, such as setback distances, noise, flicker and other issues pertaining to windfarm planning guidelines, I am now calling for a halt to all current energy proposals, which are in any event based upon clearly outdated plans and data, and bring forward a new National Energy Strategy, which is based upon current realities and in effect go back to the drawing board.”