Wind farm guidelines ‘could add €3bn to national electricity bill’

Wind farm guidelines ‘could add €3bn to national electricity bill’
A view of some of the turbines already constructed. Pic. Gerry Faughnan

New draft guidelines for the construction of wind farms could add up to €3bn to the national electricity bill, the CEO of the industry’s representative body said.

Guidelines, due to be implemented in the summer, have been promised for the last six years, during which time communities across Ireland have raised issues over noise, the distance between turbines and domestic homes, and shadow flicker.

Parties on both sides — those representing the industry and those representing affected communities — have criticised the draft guidelines as being either too stringent or too lax.

David Connolly, CEO of the Irish Wind Energy Association, said the organisation is worried about the noise restrictions proposed.

“If we go with the draft guidelines it could cost an extra €3bn because of the restrictions on noise compared to the restrictions that were in the original 2006 guidelines,” he said.

“Of course the Government has to evaluate how to protect people in local areas but we also have to take into account the cost to every day people in terms of meeting climate change targets. They haven’t quantified the cost of doing this.

“They haven’t evaluated the cost of how much onshore wind we would lose and how much more difficult it will be to meet the targets the Government has set."

Environmental solicitor Joe Noonan, who has represented families adversely impacted by windfarms, has written to the Department of Housing criticising the failure to evaluate the impact on people’s lives.

He said: “The 2019 draft coyly alludes to some impacts from wind turbines on the environment of people living in the vicinity, but does not make any effort to identify, quantify or analyse what those impacts are. In this omission, it mirrors the approach taken in the 2006 and 1996 guidelines.”

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