Saturday 16 February 2019

Handling of wind farms wrong from start – Ryan

British more clued in to fallout from wind farms, says Greens boss

Greens leader Eamon Ryan. Picture James Horan/Collins
Greens leader Eamon Ryan. Picture James Horan/Collins

JOHN DRENNAN Political Editor

GREEN Party leader Eamon Ryan has claimed the British government is more clued in to the increasing disarray of the Government's wind-power strategy than Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.

Mr Ryan was responding to the politically embarrassing ditching of the deal to trade renewable power with Britain.

As a result, plans to erect thousands of wind turbines across the midlands to export power to Britain have been shelved.

An agreement between the Irish and British governments, which would allow power to be traded between both countries, is unlikely to go ahead, meaning at least 40 wind farms planned across five counties will be mothballed.

Mr Ryan said the British "read the tea leaves" and realised the governments had lost the support of the community.

The former Energy Minister also compared the Government strategy to "a latter -day equivalent of the John B Keane play The Field".

"The Government got the whole midlands project wrong from the start. It was a textbook case in how to lose the support of rural communities.

"As if following a John B Keane script, they allowed companies sign up local farmers into deals before anything was decided, which split the local communities in two. It was straight out of The Field, instead of a 'Big Yank' you have a UK Corporation," he said.

The Green leader also slammed the absence of any sort of communications strategy.

"By not keeping public hold of the wires and by not promoting community ownership, they allowed the worst possible narrative develop where we were selling out to the Brits," he said. "We should have talked to communities in rural Ireland that so seriously need investment."

Mr Ryan said a wind farm policy was needed, but it would be difficult to start from scratch three years into government when most of the opposition has actually come from Fine Gael and Labour Party TDs and Senators.

Labour Senator John Whelan said he was "delighted'' with the news the British government had pulled the plug on plans to erect thousands of industrial wind turbines across the midlands.

He warned the collapse of the inter-governmental agreement "raises serious question marks over the planned €4bn Eirgrid grid expansion".

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section