The clear message which emerged from the public meeting organised in Athlone on Monday, August 12th to debate the major wind farm proposal for the Midlands was that people felt unrepresented by the political and planning system and that the proposal had serious social implications in sowing divisions in communities and even in families.
This was stated by Independent MEP Marian Harkin who organised the meeting when she called for a far deeper debate on the issue of wind farms and especially the proposed 2500 turbine development for the Midlands.
She said: ‘I organised this meeting holding an open mind on the desirability and value of wind as a source of energy. I did not expect to have this openness so shockingly challenged by the litany of reasons put forward by those attending which not just challenged the huge Midlands wind farm proposal but indeed what they said were serious adverse outcomes from much smaller developments. I was shocked and taken aback by the sheer size and extent of the wind farm proposals for the Midlands. This is industrial wind farming on a massive scale. The total number of wind turbines, on and offshore, in the entire United Kingdom is approximately 5000 while the Midlands proposal is of the order of 2500. This gives some idea of the enormity of the project and indeed has contributed hugely to the genuine concern of families and communities all across the Midlands.
“The issues raised by the audience at the meeting ranged from serious health problems to what was described as a negation of democracy in the planning process. To hear that the view of the entire membership of a County Council could be overruled by executive decisions is a most worrying indication of what may lie ahead in relation to the giant Midlands project.
“Nobody, and no area of our country, should be forced into acceptance of a situation which could sunder communities without delivering real added value to the vast majority of citizens. To merely serve the interests of speculators, who as has been shown, flip on their projects to the next investor in the pyramid is not an acceptable way to fulfil any requirement to meet wind energy targets for Ireland”, Marian Harkin MEP concluded.