Windfarms ‘pose threat to horse industry’

Locating windfarms close to stud farms could threaten the Irish thoroughbred industry, which employs about 14,000 people, according to a submission made to the Department of the Environment.

The Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, the Irish Jockeys’ Association, the Irish Racehorse Trainers’ Association, and the Association of Irish Racehorse Owners have warned that wind turbines, if not “placed at a suitable and appropriate distance” will pose a “very real risk” that could threaten international investment in the Irish horse industry.

The submission states that “the proposed developments will be a significant deterrent to future funding and support from overseas investors, who are integral to the industry”.

The trainers said young horses being broken and ridden for the first time are most vulnerable to wind turbine and pylon noise.

“They are very easily spooked by shadow or noise. Internationally, these projects aren’t sited by stud farms or training yards,” said Joe Osbourne, managing director of Kildangan Stud in Kildare.

The four organisations argue that the industry contributed over €1bn to the Irish economy in 2012 and provide jobs in rural areas with little other investment.

“Bearing in mind thoroughbred horses’ highly evolved flight response and their particular sensitivity to perceived visual or auditory threats, the organisations’ main concerns are for the safety of thoroughbred horses and personnel due to the very real risk of thoroughbreds being adversely affected as a result of a turbines being located directly within their range of vision or audibility,” the submission states.

David Redvers, a bloodstock agent, has said he is currently sourcing potential farms on which to base operations for Sheikh Fahad al-Thani of Qatar.

“It’s with regret that we read of the plans to allow the construction of large numbers of electro-turbines and pylons in the areas traditionally associated with quality Irish stud land,” Mr Redvers said.

“Developments of this kind are not conducive to the raising of top-quality bloodstock in the areas in which they are built. Therefore, we will be maintaining a watching brief regarding our future investments in Ireland.”

As part of the joint submission to the consultation on wind energy guidelines, Mr Osborne said: “Investments in the industry in this country cannot be taken for granted. It is therefore a key objective of the [four groups] that wind-turbine proposals should be placed at a suitable and appropriate distance from the nearest stud farm, stable, or training yard, where necessary, to prevent negative impact on thoroughbred operations.

“Any new guidelines should consider thoroughbred operations as being given special status in consideration of windfarm applications.”

Proposed guidelines from the Department of the Environment suggest retaining the recommended 500m setback distance between wind turbines and the nearest dwelling.


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