WIND farmers and others involved in providing alternative energy sources threaten long-established energy providers, the Irish Wind Farmers Association (IWFA) has said.
And not all objections to wind projects are as genuine as they might appear, the IWFA chairman added.
The comments came in the wake of a report which shows Ireland is the worst in Europe for climate action and 49th out of 60 countries.
‘We would be naïve to believe that the fossil fuel industry and the nuclear industry are not working to slow down the advancement of renewables,’ Grattan Healy told delegates gathered for their annual conference in Kilkenny.
‘We are a death threat to them. Some of the vested interests within the country are behind several of the objections,’ he claimed. ‘It is also clear from our research that information and money is coming from abroad from these vested interests. Don’t tell me that there aren’t people in the anti-wind movement who are actually acting on behalf of nuclear interests. Many of their leaders have made it clear they support nuclear.’
Mr Healy said that slow yet steady progress is being made by government on policy areas to help the wind industry. And he encouraged those who fear wind to go out a see how windfarms work. The wind industry is sustaining thousands of jobs in Ireland, is reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, creating a future for the next generation in rural Ireland and has unlimited potential, he said.
‘People should go out in their cars, drive out to their nearest windfarm, stand under the blade and see how “not noisy” they are. All you will experience is a slight woosh, woosh, woosh,’ he claimed.
Developers who engage with the community early, who explain the project, how it will work, who make a contribution to the local community, who explain its impact in a non-technical manner, and in a language people can understand, and who explain the fact that turbines are largely noiseless, are far more likely to get the green light than those who simply submit an application and hope for the best,’ Mr Healy said.
‘Big developers who come in from outside, never talk to anybody and stick up a planning notice are far more likely to get a negative reaction. Our members engage with their local communities early and many go so far as to make a financial contribution towards project in those community. They explain in detail what they are doing. Community engagement is critical,’ he added.
Keynote speaker, Paul Kenny, from the Tipperary Energy Agency said a head of steam is now gathering around wind energy policy and he urged delegates to lobby their local TDs and Ministers to ensure that wind energy is high on the government agenda into the future.
‘I attended my first wind conference back in 2005. Twelve years on, we’re still in the very same place. And it will take another 12 years unless we get the public more involved in and have shared ownership of wind energy,’ Mr Kenny said.
‘A lot of people don’t know just how beneficial and valuable wind energy is and that it makes sense. The onus is on all of us involved in wind energy production to educate them and bring them in,’ he suggested.