‘The answer my friend is blowing in the wind…’

A proposed wind farm development in north Waterford has brought an entire community out in force to stop the plans from going any further. An opposition group has also been established in the Knockanore area where Innogy Renewables Ireland is planning to develop the Lyrenacarriga Wind Farm comprising 25 wind turbines.

Paddy Massey is chairman of the Blackwater Valley Wind Aware group. He says the community is deeply unhappy about the current wind farm plans and he pointed to how those living in Knockanore are already existing between two established wind farms – Woodhouse Wind Farm comprising eight turbines and Ballyduff Wind Farm – on the other side – comprising 13 turbines.

Massey is adamant that wind energy is not working in this country and the time has come to look “at other options”. He says that – in terms of policy – the Government has followed “wind generation blindly” and, as a direct result of that, Ireland is not going to meet its targets and will be hit with massive fines.

All of this is down to this Government’s inability to put together a serious renewable energy action plan.

He continued: “Once you get above a certain amount of penetration of electricity into the grid – the savings tail off; the figures in relation to all of this are with EirGrid and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).”

Massey went on to say that Ireland has about 5,000MW of installed wind capacity – all of which, he added, have come at a huge financial, environmental and human cost.

“In some cases parts of this country have been destroyed; in other cases habitats are being destroyed; biodiversity has been destroyed and in a lot of cases we have destroyed people’s lives because we are following a technology that doesn’t work with planning guidelines that are unfit,” he added.

The plight of a community

Meanwhile, in Knockanore, the community there continues to oppose the latest plans for a wind farm. People now find themselves in a situation where on one side of them there is Woodhouse Wind Farm comprising eight turbines, while on the other is Ballyduff Wind Farm comprising 13 turbines.

Then, to the west of the rural parish, Massey says options have been signed on most of the forestry land right the way into north Cork.

All of this bothers the group’s chairman greatly.

If you go randomly onto www.landdirect.ie – and buy a folio in the middle of a forestry – it will show you there have been options signed on it.

He then points to the setup close to him in north Waterford and wonders how it is all going to work out – if it ever does.

“ESB built the wind farm at Woodhouse; Eco Power is applying for the nine turbines beside that; Highfield Energy – who originally got landowners to sign up four years ago – sold onto Innogy Renewables Ireland who are now running the project with Coillte and Highfield,” he continued.

“We know that the wind farm at Ballyduff has broken its planning permission because the blades in the turbines are bigger than they should be. While the council has told them to stop operating – it is reluctant to enforce that.

“At Woodhouse there are also blades on that which are bigger than they should be and the neighbours in the area are taking a nuisance case which will be before the High Court soon.”

Wind generation and subsidies

Massey says the subsidies that were offered in relation to wind energy generation – in the first instance – are to blame for many of the problems that now exist across the country.

“Ireland offered a subsidy to these wind farm developers and basically whether electricity was produced or not they got paid – then if there was too much electricity in the grid these guys got paid to switch them off,” he continued.

At the time, 2008-2010, the Government was offering a 15% return on investment in wind.

“Where else were people going to get that type of money? It was guaranteed and was all supported by the Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy.

“Now we are moving away from that subsidised power generation and into strike auction generation in terms of how people bid to get into the market – this is good because it means the industry is becoming more price competitive and curtails that sort of gold-rush.”

Planning ahead

Meanwhile, in a statement to AgriLand, Innogy Renewables Ireland confirmed that Lyrenacarriga Wind Farm is in the development phase and the company intends to submit a planning application to An Bord Pleanála in 2019.

“Fieldwork is continuing to be undertaken in respect of the environmental impact assessment, as is community engagement, particularly with the circa 250 near neighbours,” the company added.

“When we have the final draft of the project design and turbine layout, we will undertake a second round of comprehensive community and stakeholder engagement in advance of the planning submission.”

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