Cllr Tom Cunningham: FF & FG have Failed Rural Ireland on Wind Turbine protection.

Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has said he is “disappointed that Fianna Fáil and their cohorts in Government Fine Gael have voted to reject the Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2016 which would have afforded legal protection to rural communities across the state.”

The Bill was voted down on Thursday in the Dáil.

Cllr Cunningham said “Wind farms have been a bone of contention in communities for some years now and this Bill sought to have addressed the issue. It would have regulated wind farms and ensured that while this industry developed it would do so with community engagement and provide 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.”

Cllr Cunningham said “these wind farms and turbines continue to get planning permission in locations that are obviously too close to people’s homes. Our Bill would have required a setback distance of 10 times the height of the turbine. The Bill also had guidelines for noise and shadow flicker as well as optional community ownership. It also provided for greater consultation with communities and for the turbines to be sited in areas designated by County Councillors in the county development plan.”

“Rural Ireland has been abandoned by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael who have refused rural dwellers any legal protections around this issue. It is disingenuous for either of these parties to cite the upcoming ‘Wind Turbine Guidelines’ which we have been waiting for 5 years for as the Minister for Environment just this week said they would not be legally binding anyway.”

Cllr Cunningham said “Rural Ireland needs legal protection as we look for alternative diverse forms of energy and Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have failed to grasp this opportunity and they have failed to deliver.”