Fianna Fáil TD for Longford – Westmeath Robert Troy has called on the Government to overhaul the guidelines which underpin the construction of wind farms.
Deputy Troy pointed out that the current guidelines have no statutory basis and can be over-ruled by wind farm developers at their own discretion. The Fianna Fáil TD made the comments after it was revealed that there is significant disagreement in Government over the guidelines currently in place.
“There is intense community debate ongoing across Longford and Westmeath in areas where wind farms have been proposed for development. People in the affected communities are attempting to make sure that the windfarms are safe and do not cause disruption to the local environment” said Deputy Troy.
“In particular people have serious concerns about the noise, setbacks and shadow flicker aspects of proposed wind farms. Windfarm developers and local communities are currently engaging in consultation with one another through the framework of the Wind Energy Development Guidelines.
“These guidelines were published in 2006 and are by now long outdated. It has been revealed today that there is significant disagreement between Minister for Environment Alan Kelly and Energy Minister Alex White over new proposed guidelines. The Government needs to get its act together and introduce new guidelines without delay. This public quarrel between the two Ministers cannot be allowed to delay the introduction of new guidelines.
“People feel that the current guidelines do not offer them as much protection as it does for wind farm developers. This is no surprise when you consider that the guidelines are have no statuary power or basis in law whatsoever. Wind farm developers can essentially throw them to one side and ignore them if they see fit.
“I believe that these guidelines are in need of urgent overhaul, particularly when you consider there are more and more applications for the development of windfarms across the country. Fianna Fáil is proposing to introduce strong legislative guidelines to protect local communities and allow them share in the wealth generated by wind energy resources in their area.
“The construction of larger, technically advanced wind farms must be conducted in line with international best practice. The only way to achieve this is to ensure that there are strong rules, underpinned by law, that wind farm developers must adhere to at all times.