PAULA Byrne, the Ballyroan-based public relations officer with Wind Aware Ireland had labelled the new wind turbine guidelines as “not fit for purpose”.
Over the past number of years, as many as 14 local groups have voiced trenchant resistance to plans for wind farm developments at various locations around Laois. These include Concerned Communities of Laois, Wolfhill Swan Luggacurren Wind Awareness Group, People Over Wind, Save Our Mountain, Save our Stradbally, Concerned Residents of Spink, Laois Wind Energy Awareness Group, Protect Rural Ireland, Wind Aware Ireland, Slieve Bloom Wind Turbine Awareness Group, Environmental Action Alliance-Ireland, Portarlington Against Wind Farms and the Ratheniska-Timahoe-Spink and Surrounding areas Substation Action Group. The latest group opposed to a wind farm development in Dernacart, Mountmellick was set up just four weeks ago.
Commenting on the new guidelines, Ms Byrne said: “Six years ago, a government-appointed noise expert body recommended a noise limit of 40dBA attributable to one or more wind turbines should be applied in order to restrict noise from wind turbines at noise-sensitive properties such as homes, schools, hospitals and churches. The proposed limit has been changed to 43dBA.
“Even the 2006, guidelines envisaged a limit of 36dBA. Back then, wind turbines were being built to an average height of 50 metres. The gigantic industrial wind turbines now being built in proximity to homes are a massive 187 metres high. These behemoths not only make noise that can be measured by dBA but also create infrasound, which is proven to cause serious negative health impacts on humans and animals.
“The set-back distance proposed is also wholly inadequate. The 2006 guidelines used the 10 x height matrix (10xH) ‒ 50-metre high turbines must be 500 metres from homes. To shorten this to 4 x height is to completely abandon any objective of protecting the community from the impact of these wind turbines, a complete sop to the wind industry.
We should follow best international practice like Bavaria in Germany, which enforces the 10 x H rule.
“There is no question that the proposed set-back and noise limits will not even come close to protecting people and animals from the negative impacts of industrial wind turbines.
”The word guidelines is for the developer. It fails the people straight away, as it is not mandatory. Communities need rules to protect them; rules that are rigorously enforced.
“We call on the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to base rules not on industry lobbying and PR but on independent scientific evidence.
“Evidence to date has clearly shown that the measures proposed will simply not protect families from the negative health impacts of industrial-scale wind turbines. They will condemn families to unnecessary lifelong misery, resulting in a massive waste of people’s time, energy, community money and a clogging of the courts. Communities will not stop fighting this injustice; these guidelines are unacceptabl