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.”

Cllr Tom Cunningham Calls for Cross-Party Support for Wind Turbine Regulation Bill

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.”

Cllr Tom Cunningham Calls For Irish Government to Protect Irish Fishing Interests

Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has called on the Irish Government to ensure the rights of the Irish fishing industry are protected in the aftermath of Brexit.

Cllr Cunningham said Irish fishermen were in danger of becoming “the meat in the sandwich between the EU and Britain during any talks on Brexit.”

Cllr Cunningham who hails from the fishing village of Clogherhead said “Our government needs to make it absolutely clear to the EU negotiating team how important our fishing industry is to this island. You can be sure that the French, Dutch and other EU countries will do everything to protect their fishing industries and we must not be any different.”

At present, Ireland catches half its quota in British Waters. The London Convention of 1964 allowed Irish fishing vessels to fish in British waters before their entry into the EU. Britain has expressed that they are seeking to exit that agreement. After Brexit Ireland will have 30% of Europe’s viable fishing water and 40% of its fishing stocks yet Irish fishermen are restricted to landing just 5% or less of the overall catch putting tremendous pressure on the industry.

Cllrs Tom Cunningham & Imelda Munster TD at  Clogherhead Harbour

 

Cllr Tom Cunningham asked “what will happen to the EU vessels that are currently fishing in British waters? They will be displaced and the obvious place for them to go to is Ireland’s waters. Stakeholders estimate Brexit will cause the loss of between 500-600 Irish vessels and as our industry is comprised of small fishing vessels, in real terms, that means thousands of families losing their primary source of income and the decimation of coastal communities right around Ireland.”

Cllr Cunningham called on the Irish Government to “demand that the non-Irish vessels that are displaced from British waters are not redirected into increasingly crowded Irish waters.”

The British decided in July of this year to withdraw from the London Convention of 1964, however, Cllr Cunningham said he would give a cautious welcome to “remarks from the British Minister Michael Gove in August on allowing EU vessels to use British waters post-Brexit” but warned “these comments will cause as much confusion as relief. The Irish fishing industry needs certainty, it needs to know what is coming down the line so they can make adequate preparations, they don’t need this flip-flop approach from the British Government. The onus is on the Irish Government to represent the fishing industry and fishing communities.”

Cllr Tom Cunningham: Good News for Ardee Bypass

Sinn Féin Councillor for Ardee Tom Cunningham has welcomed funding that has been made available for the Ardee Bypass.

Cllr Cunningham said “this is very welcome news for the people of Ardee and has been a long time coming. Ardee was forgotten about when it came to the Capital Investment Programme so this is good news to have it included in the midterm review of the Capital Plan.”

“All we need now is a date and timeline for the project.”

 

 

 

 

Tom Cunningham Calls For Visitors to Take Care in Clogherhead

The great weather we had this week culminated in crowds of visitors to the beautiful village of Clogherhead and its blue flag beach on Sunday.

Sinn Féin Cllr Tom Cunningham said “while I am delighted to welcome all visitors to the village and the Strand, I would ask that they be mindful of where they are parking. Sunday was a beautiful day but Clogherhead was like a car park in places where cars had been parked on double yellow lines, across entrances blocking residents and at road ends making it difficult for traffic to flow.”

Cllr Cunningham was concerned that “at this time of year there is an increase in those using pleasure crafts and using the sea in different ways. It is during these times that the lifeboat is more liable to be called out. However, with the beach entrance blocked, where the life boat is stationed as it was today, the crew stood little chance of being able to attend the lifeboat in a timely manner.”

Cllr Cunningham continued “furthermore, an ambulance would not have been able to access the beach nor indeed the surrounding houses should an emergency have arisen.”

Cllr Tom Cunningham who lives in Clogherhead said “I am asking visitors to come and enjoy the delights of our village but please respect the law, the residents, the lifeboat and the emergency services. There is car parking about five minutes walk from the beach situated beside the playground and doctors surgery which was hardly used today at all.”

“I will also be talking to the Council engineers about how we deal with this in the future. This will be challenging as it really only affects a few days of the year but I will be exploring the erection of temporary signage for those days. Let us all enjoy this great weather without any unfortunate incidents.”