Seanad debates

Thursday, 12 December 2013

10:40 am

Photo of John KellyJohn Kelly (Labour) | Oireachtas source

In February 2012 I introduced the Wind Turbines Bill in the House and it was passed with flying colours. Eight months ago, as a result of the legislation, the Department decided, with the help of the Minister, to review the wind energy guidelines. Hundreds of submissions were made to it, mostly about the setback distance of wind turbines from family homes. The Department addressed the flicker issue in that it was stated the monstrosity would be turned off when there was a flicker. The noise levels were dealt with, but this will still prove contentious in that it will be a case of one man's word against another's. However, the Department did not deal with the setback distance. In 2006 the setback distance was decided based on the height of the turbine multiplied by ten. At the time the height of a turbine was 50 m. Turbines are now being developed that are 200 m high. Logic would dictate that these turbines should be 2 km from people's homes. Despite this, they are still set at 500 m. Not one metre was added to the setback distance after the making of hundreds of submissions. Everyone was listening to the departmental drivel that we would not reach our targets if the setback distance was 1 m farther than 500 m. I am sick and tired of listening to this. That information is being fed to the Department and the Minister by the big wind energy developers, nobody else.

It is said this is a local issue. However, between wind turbines and pylons, it is a local issue everywhere right now. We need to engage in cross-referencing with regard to the members of each relevant board. We need to ask who has been on the boards of SEAI, Mainstream, Coillte, EirGrid and An Bord Pleanála and determine where they have come from, where they have ended up and who is driving this project. The simple people are asking simple questions, but they are not receiving the required answers. That is not acceptable.

Yesterday I said in this House that we were creating another bubble. It is ready to burst. There is only one way to deal with it, namely, by way of a political decision. There is no point in waiting any longer for civil servants to solve this problem. A political decision must be made. The politicians who need to make the decision had better be aware that this House could be a very volatile place in which to be in the next couple of years.


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