Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has called on all Parties to support the Sinn Féin Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2016 which will be voted on next Thursday (28th September) in the Dáil.
Cllr Cunningham said “Wind farms have been a bone of contention in communities for some years now and this Bill seeks to address the issue. It seeks to regulate wind farms and to ensure that while this industry develops that it does so with community engagement and also provides legal protection for the rural communities.”
“This has been an area that has been neglected by the last two Governments simply because it is a contentious issue and because of this lack of legislation in terms of planning regulations for wind turbines, many rural communities have suffered greatly.”
“This Bill has various provisions in terms of creating a legal framework for wind farm development, for example, to protect rural dwellers the Bill proposes a setback of 10 times the height of the turbine, along with provisions to protect against noise and shadow flicker.
“Turbines should only be located in areas designated by County Councillors in the county development plan. We also allow for both optional community ownership and greater consultation.”
Sinn Féin is the first Party to put forward legislation giving firm legal protections for rural communities across the State in relation to where the wind farms are sited.
Cllr Cunningham continued “No-one is denying that harnessing wind to generate power could go a long way to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and renewable energy development is urgently needed but it is essential that we create other renewable energy sources; off-shore wind, biomass and biogas are seriously underdeveloped.”
“Clean green forms of indigenous energy can be further harnessed but we must ensure it is done with the involvement of local communities.”
Tom Cunningham called on all Parties to support Sinn Féin’s Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2016 and he urged “the public to contact your local TD and encourage them to support regulation of the Wind Farms and turbines. This Bill is about legal protection for rural communities. It’s your community, make sure you are heard.”
Councillor Kenneth Flood has welcomed the cross Party support he received for his Cannabis Motion at this month’s Louth County Council meeting.
The text of the motion was:
“Louth County Council calls on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, to introduce legislation that will legalise the use of medicinal Cannabis in the treatment of patients with specified medical conditions which have failed to respond to all other previous treatments”
Speaking after the meeting Cllr Flood said “I welcome the support from all parties from all parts of the county. I was especially encouraged by the contributions made during the debate showing how well informed the contributors were on this issue. Now the motion has been passed the letter will go to Minister Harris outlining our support for this legislation and hopefully the Minister will stop dragging his feet on this issue.”
“We all know why this legislation is needed quickly thanks to the campaigning of Vera Twomey for her daughter Ava Twomney, who has a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. This has brought many others forward to campaign for the medicines that can change their lives.”
The Medicinal Cannabis Bill was passed in the Dail in December 2016 and in March 2017 the HPRA that regulates medicines in Ireland recommended access to medicinal cannabis under a monitored, five-year programme, confined to a number of specific illnesses.
Cllr Flood commented “A dozen EU States have access programmes up and running already. It shouldn’t take the Minister this long to enact the legislation when there are several successful access programme templates that he can replicate. While the minister procrastinates, his hesitance to progress this legislation is driving people like Ava Twomey out of the country to access the cannabis based medicines that can change her quality of life.”
Cllr Flood called on the Minister to make those medicines available here as soon as possible.
Sinn Féin Councillor Imelda Munster has described the government’s new “Urban Regeneration Bill” as shocking and as having a Thatcherite approach which will bring an end to direct council social housing provision.
Cllr Munster said “It is in effect a wholesale privatisation of social housing. At a recent meeting members of the CPG (Corporate Policy Group) in Louth were told local authorities will not be given any more funding to build social housing. Instead, housing delivery and sourcing will be through private developers through leasing and voluntary housing bodies from 2017 onwards.”
Cllr Munster continued “this new bill clearly shows that the government parties are backing the ‘boom and bust’ policies that led to the crisis by enticing private developers by giving them concessions and allowing them to forgo obligations under Part 5. This bill has halved to 10% the amount of land zoned for residential use that must be set aside for social and affordable housing.”
“It also states that affordable housing schemes shall not be agreed to by planning authorities and also allows developers to opt out of their obligation to transfer 10% (reduced from 20% in the bill)of any development to the ownership of local authorities. They would instead lease the proportion of any development to councils. This will result in an end to direct council house provision and cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of Euro every year in paying developers and private landlords taxpayers money to lease houses. Outsourcing to private developers and landlords will mean families will never get a home they can call their own and they will be easy prey to unscrupulous landlords and further compound the housing crisis we are currently in and the huge distress it is causing thousands of families in Louth alone.”
Cllr Munster said “if this is the government’s response to the housing crisis then it will serve to increase homelessness and only benefit developers and landlords who are set to make millions on the backs of the taxpayer and every individual forced into private rented accommodation.”