The Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment Brian Stanley has called for strict regulation of the location and operation of wind farms. The Laois/Offaly TD was proposing a Sinn Féin Bill that would replace the existing guidelines with a statutory provision for setback distances of ten times the height of a wind turbine.
The legislation would also prevent electricity generated from wind being exported before Ireland achieves its targets in renewable energy.
Deputy Stanley said;
“Every representative from the midlands region will be aware that the proposal for industrial scale wind farms has generated massive debate and a lot of opposition. The proposed turbines were of a height and size never seen before in this country. Many people were frightened by the prospect of huge turbines being erected in their hundreds and the impact that would have on the landscape and potentially on the quality of people’s lives.
“We clearly need planning regulations that are fit for purpose and are mandatory rather than voluntary or suggestions. One of the key proposals in this Bill is that there be a minimum setback distance of ten times the height of the turbines.
“All proposed wind farms must also comply with and be consistent with County Development plans, and that they cannot be over ridden by the Strategic Infrastructure Act of 2006. Wind farms must be located in areas zoned by local councillors.
“The basis for the Midlands project was the memorandum of understanding between this state and Britain to export electricity to Britain. In this Bill we propose that no such export contracts be concluded before this state attains its own targets in relation to electricity generated from renewable sources.
“While the export of electricity from wind and other renewable sources has a lot of potential for this country in the future, we ought surely to be reducing our own dependency on imported fossil fuels, before we go down that road.”