Clare Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe is calling for new guidelines to be urgently issued to local authorities on the development of wind farms in Ireland.
There has been a major increase in new applications being made to Clare County Council for these developments and there is major concern in many of the communities where these might pop up about the impact on their visage and their locality as a whole.
“I’ve been engaging with a large number of householders from around Clare in recent weeks who are deeply concerned about proposed windfarm developments near their homes,” said Deputy Crowe.
“Let me start by saying – these individuals, nor I, are opposed to wind energy but what they are concerned about is the proximity of such developments to their houses and how this will impact on their communities.
“Last week I met with Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien and I asked him to issue new guidelines on wind energy to local authorities in as quick a timeframe as possible.
“The guidelines have been in draft format for over a year but have yet to be ratified and issued to local authorities. The new guidelines will include tightened restrictions in relation to wind farms – one important stipulation being that turbines should be set back 500m from homes.
“If that condition was in place it was appease some of the concerns being brought to my attention in recent weeks, whereas the current applications are being assessed on the existing, much more lenient rules.
“I have also written to Clare County Council urging them to take more radical approach to wind energy. I really believe it should be based all shore where winds speeds are at their highest. I understand that some inland wind farms are only 40% efficient and whilst they are helpful in terms of generating renewable power, they are massively controversial.
“Offshore farms would be far less controversial and more reliable with a higher output of electricity.
“A couple of years ago, I was sailing from Dublin to Liverpool and on the approach, we passed dozens of offshore windmills in the Mersey estuary. They are hardly seen from land but rotating at high speed due to the sea breezes and a similar model must be explored here.
Finally, I have suggested to the Minister and to Clare County Council that Moneypoint is perfectly positioned to be processing plant for offshore wind energy.
“Its position and also its high voltage lines running throughout the country make this a very viable option and would secure employment and the economy of West Clare,” Mr Crowe added.