Wind farms could be a 'massive problem for horses' - Ruby Walsh
THE horse-breeding industry has come out to oppose plans for large-scale wind farms across the country.
Representative bodies of the thoroughbred industry claim that plans for more than 1,000 turbines across the midlands could result in foreign investors moving their businesses elsewhere because of the impact they would have on the landscape and health of animals.
The managing director of Kildangan Stud in Kildare, Joe Osborne, said breeders were not "anti-wind farms", but that guidelines being drafted by the Department of Energy had to take into account the effect on the industry – which is worth €1.1bn a year and employs 14,000 people.
Kildangan, in Monasterevin, is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, a global player.
"We're not anti-wind farms, but the number and scale of them across the midlands and the size of the turbines are incompatible with thoroughbreds," he said.
"The guidelines are being written next year, and the industry needs to be taken into account.
"There is a health and safety concern. These are gigantic structures, and thoroughbreds are flighty creatures and will spook at anything that's unfamiliar.
"The industry here is heavily supported by foreign investment and if people are looking at properties with turbines at the end of the field we're concerned they'll move to other locations."
Two companies have announced plans in recent months to build large-scale wind farms in the midlands.
Mainstream Renewable Power plans 450 wind turbines across seven counties, a project that has since been delayed; while Element Power Ireland plans its Green Wire project, which would involve 40 wind farms across five midland counties, totalling 750 turbines.
Champion National Hunt jockey Ruby Walsh said he believed turbines could pose a health and safety risk.
"I am not opposed to progress and understand the need for renewable energy, however the thoroughbred industry is a huge source of rural employment in Ireland. The moving shadows on sunny days created by wind turbines is a massive problem for horses. The riding or even grazing of horses in such areas is simply not possible and extremely dangerous."
The campaign is supported by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, the Irish Jockeys' Association, the Irish Racehorse Trainers' Association and the Association of Irish Racehorse Owners.
A statement by Element Power said: "It is factually incorrect to claim wind energy might interfere with breeding."