THOUSANDS OF PROTESTERS are expected to descend on Dublin city centre this morning to protest the Government’s wind energy policy.
Wind Aware Ireland, a recently-established umbrella organisation of groups opposed to pylons, high-power cables and wind farms, are behind the protest.
Paula Byrne of WAI said the group expects about 5,000 people from all over the country to attend the march, which will begin in Parnell Square at 11 am and conclude at Leinster House on Kildare Street.
Bryne said that the Government’s current policy on wind energy is a “completely ineffective way of reducing C02 that is diverting resources from finding meaningful solutions” to global warming.
She noted that people are “incensed” by the lack of public consultation on the issue and are unwilling to “roll over”.
Last week Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley brought forward the Wind Turbine Legislation Bill which proposes strict regulations in relation to the location and operation of wind farms.
Bryne said that “we shouldn’t even be talking about” the potential social and health impacts of pylons until a full cost balance analysis and envirionmental impact assessment are carried out.
“Here we are in the very same situation that we were in in 2006, where the Government is too close to developers. There has been no proper analysis of the environmental impact of the [wind energy] policy,” Bryne stated.
She added that WAI took the news that the plan to build thousands of wind turbines in the Midlands to export clean energy to the UK has been shelved “with a very large pinch of salt”.
In a statement released on Sunday, Environment Minister Pat Rabbitte said: “I regret that it has not been possible at this time to conclude an agreement as envisaged. However I believe that in the context of an European Internal Market and greater integration, greater trade in energy between Britain and Ireland is inevitable in the post 2020 scenario.”
Bryne said that the inclusion of the phrase “at this time” meant “the project is still live”.
She described the timing of the statement as “very interesting”, adding that Rabbitte “absolutely” released it to try to stop today’s protest from going ahead.
Senator John Whelan, who last week publicly endorsed the group, and a number of local and European election candidates are expected to attend the march.
‘Our most viable renewable resource’
Kenneth Matthews, CEO of the Irish Wind Energy Association, said that wind energy accounted for 23 – 29 per cent of the country’s energy needs in the last four months, playing an important role in reducing our carbon emissions.
“Wind energy is our most viable renewable and indigenous resource and this energy will continue to deliver significant benefits to all stakeholders – particularly in terms of local employment, local investment, business rates and local community gain. Over the last 20 years Irish wind energy has grown organically to a stage where today there are more than 1,300 turbines in operation in harmony alongside local communities,” Matthews stated.