Friday 26 December 2014

Wind farm and pylon protesters take message to corridors of power

Emma Jane Hade and Paul Melia

Published 16/04/2014 | 02:30

Maria Fleming from Co Roscommon, with her daughters Alex and Josie and her partner Paul Cullen, at the protest. Frank McGrath
Joe Farrar from Co Wicklow. Frank McGrath
Baby Darragh McCarthy from CoTipperary. Frank McGrath
Leah Reid (5) from Co Westmeath. Frank McGrath

PYLON protesters and wind- farm opponents joined forces in their thousands to voice their concerns about energy policies outside Leinster House.

Almost 4,000 people from all over the country marched through Dublin amid concerns about the impact on health, the landscape and livelihoods.

This protest came as Bord na Mona announced that it was shelving its Clean Energy Hub project for the Midlands, following the collapse of a deal between the Irish and British governments which would have allowed power to be exported to the UK.

In a statement, it said the €1bn project would not go ahead in the absence of an agreement. "Bord na Mona will not now continue to develop the project as envisaged at this point in time," it said, adding that it would continue to develop wind farms for the domestic market.

The plans were announced last October – and would have involved hundreds of turbines being erected on more than 20,000 hectares of cutaway bog in Offaly and Kildare.

As the news filtered through, demonstrators were gathering at Parnell Square for a march that culminated outside the Dail.

Thousands of families took to the streets to voice their concerns, which range from the impact the proposed structures would have on their health, to damaging natural beauty spots.

The protest was organised by Wind Aware Ireland, a new organisation bringing together groups who are in opposition to pylons, wind farms and overhead power cables.

Yesterday afternoon's protest was held ahead of the upcoming local and European elections in May.

Mother-of-two Elaine Fisher was joined at the rally by her two young children, James and Cara. Also with them was James's special assistance dog Winona.

"James has autism, so that is why I am so concerned. My greatest concerns are the sounds it will make, as he has highly sensitive hearing, and spinning things also affect him," the 35-year-old explained.

The Westmeath native said that a proposed wind turbine would be just over one mile from her home, and would cause her young son great discomfort.

"We are hoping to get the setback distance further from the house because of the sound."

Kerry woman Catherine Kelly made the four-hour journey to Dublin yesterday to voice her concerns over the impact that proposed wind turbines would have on her rural community.

Catherine has three children under the age of five, and is also involved in the North Kerry Wind Turbine Awareness Group.

"A proposed wind turbine would be just 700m from our house. It's probably going to directly affect 275 homes in our area," she explained.

She said that yesterday's protest gave her great comfort, as it reminded her that her rural community was not alone.

"In some ways it is comforting, but in other ways it is just horrifying, as you realise how many other townlands will be affected," she added.

Among the crowd were several faces from inside the walls of Leinster House, including Tipperary senator Denis Landy.

Senator Landy's Carrick-on-Suir home could potentially be just several hundred metres from two proposed pylon routes. "I have consistently said that we need to step back from building monstrous pylons across the countryside," he said.

Irish Independent

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