Wind Energy

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We all have a duty to reduce our carbon emmissions whether that be by means of reducing consumption, using less fossil fuels or making choices about where we make our electricity. I must admit to having quite mixed views about the growing number of wind farms in the south east of Ireland. I can think of four sites within a few miles of here with several more planning applications in the works.

On the one hand, the windmills are 'elegant' when viewed from afar. The blades rotate lazily, night & day, generating 'free' power from the winds that blow, easing our collective conscience. On the other hand, I've been up close to these sites and even at a distance, there is a constant and somewhat unpleasant background noise. It's hard to describe – a combination of swishing blade and 'humming' of gears. I certainly wouldn't care to live on the downside of the prevailing winds near any of these places. Then there is the infrastructure required to build and maintain them – roads, security fencing, powerlines etc. At least the ones I'm thinking of, are built on relatively low lying hills, already farmed and/or forested and now blighted with construction works. I'd be concerned about the future though, as the wind industry looks to the higher hills in the same way the oil industry looks to deeper waters. 'What use are them hills?' – you can almost hear them asking – 'Why not put a nice wind farm up there and do something useful with the land?' etc. And you can see the political & developer class jumping on the bandwagon..

So, I'm very undecided. We all like the notion of Green Power but at what cost? Do we sacrifice many smaller lowlying hills and probably diminish the lives of local communities with the noise? I'm certainly opposed to the construction of anything in the higher hills, unless it's of very specific strategic & national importance. We value these places as they are – without dirty great tracks bulldozed into the bog & heather and without high security fences and powerlines or cables cut into the ground. Keep an eye on this..