A bit of a dilemma
October 9, 2002 at 11:07 am #705734GregFParticipant
Here’s a bit of a dilemma…I see that the ESB plan to develop more windmill farm sites…….particularly in the west where it is always windy…..which will produce a substantial amount of electricity for the Nation Grid. This is a clean way of producing energy…..but it leads to our ‘beautiful’ countryside being cluttered with these obtrusive windmills as some may say. I think they look good….quite elegant infact.
I wonder where the Green Party and An Taisce stands on this issue…..considering they are so opposed to bungalow blight and the harming of the countryside. Will double standards apply.
October 9, 2002 at 5:25 pm #721157kefuParticipant
I think everybody is in favour of them. The major wind farm in Mayo is very elegant. There is also a smaller one in Connemara. Two huge ones are planned off Arklow and off the coast of Derry. Here’s what Kevin Myers thinks, from recent article. Thank God nobody ever listens to him.
Wed, Sep 04, 02
An Irishman’s Diary
Thank you, Eamon Sweeney, for allowing me to return to the issue of wind-farms, another voodoo heresy of our time. Replying to a recent column about the effects of wind-farms on wildlife, he wrote: “Of course lumbering raptors such as the lovely vulture will be shredded occasionally, but the idea that windmills will decimate the grub-eating bird and bat population is fatuous,” writes Kevin Myers.
If he had gone to the trouble of reading my column before being so very smart, he’d have known that I wasn’t dealing with an “idea”, nor did I use the word decimate. I was dealing with a fact. Spanish wind-farms are now believed to kill millions of birds and bats a year. In the US, wind-farms are killing bald eagles, a protected species, the whole time; and since these deaths are an actuarial certainty, the companies are liable to criminal prosecution.
Should energy issues be decided on the effect on wildlife? Well, isn’t that the whole point of the increasingly shrill hysteria from the green corner – that the planet is not ours to destroy, but to protect? And we protect it by erecting vast bird-threshing plants on our coasts, is that it? To be sure, wind power is a nice way of making money. Legislators throughout Europe, with the myopia of their species, have obliged electricity grids to buy what is called “green” energy. But why are wind-farms called “green” when they are surrounded by the corpses of birds, and when their existence is made possible only by subsidies from carboniferous or atom-based energy systems?
Tax breaks and subsidies
Even if wind-power were economically viable – and it isn’t, without tax breaks and subsidies – it still requires a traditional power-station grid alongside it. So what’s it to be? Coal, peat, oil, gas, biomass or nuclear? The first five are CO
2-generating: the last is the least destructive to the ozone layer – if, that is, you believe (as the Greens do with dogmatic passion) that the burning of fossil fuels is the primary reason for its diminution. Those six are your choices. What is not a choice is wind, though this doesn’t stop the wind-farms from going up.
Two are projected for coastal waters, where planning permission isn’t needed. One is off Wexford, the other off north Derry. Both are on sandbanks, but there are serious doubts that the Wexford bank is strong enough to sustain a wind-farm with its massive foundations. And the Derry proposal is the sort of thing that might be dreamt up by a group of hippies.
This is one of the most famous coastlines in Europe, legendary for its evening light. Jimmy Kennedy was inspired to write Red Sails in the Sunset one evening there. One day soon, another songwriter can write a similar song there too if the wind-farm proposals go through – only the sails will now be on windmills, and they will be red from the flocks of sea-birds smashed into pulp by the blades.
Fortunately for future generations of songwriters, these sails – being some 150 metres high – will be perfectly visible from land. They will have to be lit at night, and painted bright colours, to avoid being a hazard to shipping. The project will cost in the region of Â£200 million; or so we are told. That figure doesn’t take into account the cost of removing the wretched things when they have come to the end of their useful life, merrily turning the air pink with bird-pulp. That coastline is the most visited tourist attraction in Northern Ireland. What future tourists will want to see gannet-mashing machines? None, of course; and that makes a perverse sort of sense, for the economics of wind power are all based on juju. Denmark, which has the largest number of wind-farms of any country in Europe, charges 12.21p sterling per kilowatt hour. Northern Ireland charges 9.45. The Republic charges 6.98. In other words, wind is viable only where energy is expensive, not merely because it is capital intensive to start off with, but because, relatively speaking, there are so few occasions when it works.
Ordinary power stations work 24 hours a day. Wind-farms can’t work when the wind is too high or too low. The Middelgrunden wind-farm in Denmark is working barely 30 per cent of the time. As I said in my last – but by no means my final – column on this subject, the vast wind-farm in the Brecons in Wales, 50 square miles of churning blades, each over 150 metres high, will produce just 1 per cent of the power generated by the Wylfa Head nuclear power station in Anglesea. Unlike Wylfa Head, it will be the world’s biggest bird-blender.
Meanwhile, a beautiful landscape, populated by politically powerless people, will have been ravaged. The same is true of the Derry proposals, but of course, no-one would propose wind-farms off the North Down Coast, or off the Dublin coastline, or the fifty miles of gusty ridgeland along the Sussex Downs. The presence of a wind-farm is proof of local impotence (apart, that is, from owners of hill-tops, who receive handsome rent) and remoteness from the decision-making process.
Wind certainly won’t reduce our CO2 emissions. If that’s what we want to do, we can either go back to the dark ages, or we can use nuclear power. Those are the real options if we think CO
2 is a threat to the planet, and there aren’t any others. And the choice can be made only after an informed debate, not the effusions of pious prattle which the environment generally provokes among the bien-pensant in this country.
October 9, 2002 at 6:31 pm #721158notjimParticipant
I think no-one minds the farms so much as the wires coming from them, oh, and the noise if they are too close.
October 9, 2002 at 7:02 pm #721159ewParticipant
I think the greens oposition to “bungalow blight” is based mostly on the high cost of providing infrastructure and services to the houses coupled with the need for total dependence on cars.
I don’t think these concerns apply to windmills.
October 9, 2002 at 7:56 pm #721160-Donnacha-Participant
I think the greens are in favour of the offshore windfarms being proposed. Yes, the Green Party in favour of something, I’m shocked too.
These people whinging about the effect on the landscape need to see the bigger picture i.e. if we don’t start replacing fossil fuel burning with things like this then we won’t have any landscape at all in the not too distant future.
October 10, 2002 at 10:09 am #721161Andrew DuffyParticipant
I’m amazed that Kevin Myers doesn’t write for the Independent. It would suit him.
Nuclear power. Really.
(Eyes roll up)
October 10, 2002 at 1:37 pm #721162SimonParticipant
The essential distinction between one of housing and wind-farms is that one of housing (ala bungalow bliss, pick your page) has blighted every field between Dublin / Galway and all other directions. Each one producing its own generally visual intrusiveness, sewage and other waste. Wind-farms are clustered together (unlike the confetti planned Mexican houses) to produce clean energy with no waste products.
This crazy one of housing in every field is so noticeably absent when one drives through Northern Ireland or over in Scotland – why because itâ€™s not allowed and has never been an issue like most things here. The one off housing advocates say they want to protect rural communities where as in fact they will destroy what little is left of rural Ireland .The obvious solution is to build â€™village likeâ€™ as is only allowed in Scotland and as one sees in the Highlands and in particular around Fortwilliam and the â€˜Road to the Islesâ€™, o to be on that bonny road now.
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