Ind. All. – Cllr Niamh Kennedy

Niamh Kennedy GE16

In response to the specific questions:

No.

Question

Response

1

Do you, or your family members, own/direct or otherwise have a pecuniary interest in a wind farm or related company?

NO

2

Have you ever attended a pre-planning meeting between a local authority and wind farm promoter?

NO

3

How close to a wind farm would you live?

For this question assume a wind farm of 5 turbines each 125m height and select from the options (i) doesn’t matter next door is fine; (ii) must be at least 500m away; (iii) must be at least 750m away; (iv) must be at least 1km away; (v) must be at least 1.25km away; or (vi) must be at least 2km away.

Limited by your choices the best case scenario would be 2km.  In an ideal world I would prefer not to have any daily exposure to wind turbines.

However, in the interests of fairness, and with respect to what I have supported at Donegal County Council I will settle for (v) above, 1.25km or ten times tip height of your proposed 125mtr cluster of turbines.

4

Can you clarify your stance against wind farms, why this seemingly sudden change?

e.g. why is there no mention of your wind farm position in theIndependent Alliance media pack?

The best clarification I can offer on my wind farm stance is contained in the Ocean FM interview of 5th January at this link: https://soundcloud.com/oceanfm/niamh-kennedy-comes-out-against-development-of-windfarms-nwt-tues-5th-jan

or indeed in a series of Facebook posts on my page since early December. I am opposed to the further devastation of Donegal landscapes by turbines. I am in Council only 18 months or so and my first substantive vote was to support the Variation of the CDP with respect to turbines and since then I have been educating myself on the issue and becoming more and more horrified at the stories I hear from people on how these massive industrial projects are impacting on their lives in rural Donegal.

It is true to say that there is no specific mention of wind farms in the Independent Alliance media pack but you must understand this was a high-level document which had to be agreed by all without getting down to the nitty gritty of personal wishes. I have become aware gradually of the problems associated with wind turbines. If elected I will be in a position to make specific requests on the incoming government should the Alliance be approached to help form the next government.

5

If elected will you support Donegal County Councillors variation no.2 on wind farm planning and make your support of or participation in a government conditional on the Minister for Environment dropping his opposition to variation no.2 and withdrawing his section 31 direction?  This can be achieved if the Minister withdraws opposition to the high court case: Campbell -v- Minister for the Environment 2014/712 JR which is set for hearing in June 2016.  If not, why not? Yes. Moreover, I have already publically declared my intentions on that issue in a recent story with Donegal Now, and I criticised the outgoing Minister, Alan Kelly, and his colleague Mr Alex White on their record re the revision of the 2006 Guidelines for Wind Energy.  See: http://www.donegalnow.com/news/independent-candidate-slams-energy-minister-over-comments-on-wind-energy/72293

Each candidate was offered a 750 word blog post, Niamh Kennedy writes:

Alan Kelly, as Minister of Environment, Community and Local Government, overturned a democratic vote of county councillors in Lifford to vary our County Development Plan (see note at end).  It turned out to be a flawed decision apparently and is subject of a High Court judicial review initiated by Cllr. John Campbell.

The Minister’s action is an example of how the authority of local government has been diminished for the expediency of central government. The power to overturn a decision by local government is available to the Minister to be used in the national interest. But when it is examined as to why this decision was taken – to benefit the Wind Industry at the cost of ordinary people for a redundant technology – was it in the national interest?

We cannot depend on wind power to keep the lights burning. Wind power must always be run concurrently with a source of stable power, which is highly wasteful and expensive. Wind power fluctuates, not just from day to day but, from moment to moment. The unstable supply must be balanced with a stable supply large enough to absorb the fluctuations. Otherwise customers experience power surges and black outs with additional costs to business and quality of life. So there is a limit to how much wind energy the grid can absorb. The total installed capacity of wind power in the country is at – or close to – that limit.

As a country we adopted wind energy in the expectation that it was a renewable source of power capable of generating a substantial part of our energy needs. The claims of the wind industry however were never subject to close scrutiny. Wind energy should have been evaluated as part of an extensive Cost Benefit Analysis to understand:

  • the impact on the receiving environment (including human health)
  • social costs
  • property values
  • impact on other businesses
  • the increased cost of electricity
  • the impact on competitiveness of the entire economy
  • Instead, we have a denial that they such costs are even accrued.

When the wind industry was embraced as an alternative energy it was at a time when our carbon footprint was increasing dramatically. It is regrettable that government decided that wind was the answer to our energy needs. A relationship has been established between wind industry and the State which makes a rethink on policy more difficult. We must change direction.

Rather than accept a seemingly quick-fix solution we should have considered the challenge of finding a more dependable solution. Such a solution is required now more than ever. The power sources that should be examined are low carbon, wave, tidal and solar.

Research and development is a prerequisite. Researchers would be required at undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral levels. The best talent from abroad is needed to help initiate development. To attract the proper talent this country needs the political will to make appropriate investments.

Investment in the R&D of new technologies can be justified on two grounds. Firstly, there is an urgent need for new solutions given the timescale of climate change. Secondly, Ireland must advance as a more technically skilled society if it is to provide acceptable standards of living for its people.

Creating jobs for young people would also help to answer the current crisis of emigration. As a society with an ageing population, we need our young people to stay in Ireland to rear their families. Our young people have no choice but to emigrate and we will all suffer the medium to long term consequences.

This call for investment has a local dimension. One of the great assets of Donegal is the well-developed port of Killybegs. Killybegs would make an ideal base for R&D in low carbon and other new technologies for the following reasons:

  • the Letterkenny Institute of Technology has a thriving campus there.
  • the harbour accommodates large vessels essential for heavy industry
  • there are existing capabilities in the technical and engineering industries (which service the fishing fleet and fish processing factories) that can be expanded and developed

Donegal is one of the most beautiful counties in Ireland. We should aspire to keep it that way.  A recent decision by An Bord Pleanala stated that a development of 43 turbines in Emlagh Co Meath was inappropriate because:

“the 2006 Guidelines did not envisage the construction of such extensive large scale turbines in an area primarily characterised as a hilly and flat farmland….”

We also need appropriate developments for our beautiful county. The Emlagh decision gives us hope that a similar verdict will be reached for the proposed development of 46 turbines at Carrickaduff.

As for the recent ‘incident’ in Drumkeen another blog cannot explain how the Corkermore and Loughderryduff incidents of 2013 were buried. Inevitably with more turbines there will be more accidents. Enough is enough – let’s put Donegal First.

Note: That variation was to put a reasonable distance (10 times tip-height) between wind turbines and homes, to mark fresh water pearl rivers as unfavourable locations and not to limit the ZVI of Glenveagh.

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