Your Home is Your Castle

scream at turbine

 

A person needs to feel safe and secure, and happy, in their own home.

 

If a society cannot guarantee its citizens a peaceful and secure place to stay, that society will very quickly become dysfunctional. Citizens will react badly to a threat to the sanctity of their home. These reactions will include mental illness, intra family conflict, and vigilantism, to name but a few.

 

The idea of a home invasion is the terror of most. The idea of armed intruders invading your domestic sanctity is the stuff of nightmares and horror movies.

 

But when you think about it, is that not what a wind farm is doing? It is invading your home with its noise and flicker. The physical and psychological effects of the “whump-whump” of the blades, and the strobe effect of the sunlight, is invading your home and making it impossible for you to achieve the domestic sanctity that is a fundamental right of every citizen.

 

In Ireland the sanctity of the home has not only a social significance, it also has a political – historical significance. The colonial legacy of the absentee landlord being able to evict tenant farmers from their homes at will is still a festering sore in the Irish psyche. The fact that the banks have now taken the place of the absentee landlord means that the sore is still festering.

 

Article 40.5 of the Constitution of Ireland says:

“The dwelling of every citizen is inviolable and shall not be forcibly entered save in accordance with law.”

As I previously mentioned, this clause has a fundamental resonance, not only in the socio-legal sense, but also in the historical sense. In essence, the Constitution is saying “never again”.

 

And yet it is happening again. Families are being driven from their homes by wind farms. This is worse than the absentee landlord, as in this case the wind farm is not even your landlord, it is rather an unwelcome neighbour that is driving you off your property.

 

That word “inviolable” is important. It is not a word that you would often see in modern language, but in essence it means something that must never be broken, infringed or dishonoured. Surely what these wind farms are doing is breaking and dishonouring citizen’s dwellings.

 

The wind farms might point out the proviso, “save in accordance with law”, with that hoary old line: “We are not breaking the law. We obtained planning permission”.

 

However, in the landmark judgment of King v Attorney General [1981] 1 I.R. 253 (S.C.) Henchy J. held that the phrase “save in accordance with law” is to be interpreted “without stooping to methods which ignore the fundamental norms of the legal order postulated by the Constitution”.

 

In other words, even if the law is officially on your side, you cannot use the law to achieve effects which are clearly undermining the Constitution. The anguish and mental suffering that wind farms are causing citizens to experience clearly ignores the fundamental norms of our Constitution, especially when one considers that the property in question is also the family home.

 

Our Constitution is based on the sanctity of the family. The family is often described as the bedrock of society, and our Constitution recognises this and enshrines that principle. And yet the Government allows families to be destroyed by neighbouring wind farms. How can that be in accordance with the Constitution?

 

The inviolability of the family home is not only enshrined in our Constitution, but also in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Article 7 of the Charter says that everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications.

 

In the case of Monika Kusionova v Smart CAPITAL ((2014) Case C-34/13 of the European Court of Justice) emphasised (in extremely strong language) how the loss of a family home places the family in a particularly vulnerable position. The Court held that the loss of a home is one of the most serious breaches of the rights to respect for the home and that any person who risks being the victim of such a breach should be able to have the proportionality of this measure reviewed. In other words, can the benefits of a wind farm (assuming that there are any) ever be justification for driving someone from their family home?

 

One does not need to be a genius to get the answer to that question.

 

And the fact that the government is not only allowing these home invasions, but are actually profiting from the proceedings?

 

Article 40.3 of the Constitution of Ireland says:

“3 1° The State guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen.

2° The State shall, in particular, by its laws protect as best it may from unjust attack and, in the case of injustice done, vindicate the life, person, good name, and property rights of every citizen.”

 

This Government is not only allowing a fundamental constitutional right to be taken from its citizens, it is doing that taking itself.

Posted in Academic Research; Peer-Review Process; Medical Journals, An Bord Pleanala; appeal; interested parties, Democracy; Ireland; Fine Gael; Labour; Sinn Fein; Workers; Constitution, Dr Sarah Laurie; Steve Cooper; Bob McMurtry; Alun Evans, Easter Uprising, 1916 Revolution, Independence, IRA., EIA Directive 2014/52/EU, EirGrid; Insurance; Law; Cancer; EMF, EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, Freedom of Information; Access to Environmental Information; AIE; Commissioner for Environmental Information, Green Party; Ireland; Eamonn Ryan; Cormac Manning, Law; High Court; Leave To Appeal; Environment, Ministerial Responsibility; Liability; Negligence; cardiovascular, Planning and Development Act 2000; guidelines; directives; Sections 28 & 29, Planning Permission; Extension; Planning and Development Act, Wind Farm Guidelines, turbines, flicker, noise, distance, Denis Naughten, Wind Turbine Syndrome; Professor Alun Evans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lies, lies and more lies.

Pinnochio nose

 

This is a very interesting and useful piece, explaining infrasound from wind turbines in language we can all understand. Courtesy of Stop These Things!

Vermonters Vent Fury at the Wind Industry’s Constant Stream of Lies

Annette Smith is Executive Director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, Inc. She is the Burlington Free Press’s 2016 Vermonter of the Year. And, having graced these pages many times, an STT Champion.

In this sharp and insightful piece, Anna unloads on the lies, treachery and deceit that makes the wind industry tick.

The winds of woe
Vermont Biz
Annette Smith
27 April 2017

Prospective neighbors of wind turbines heard all the promises: “Quiet as a library.” “Like a baby’s breath.” “The same decibel level as a refrigerator.” The more brazen wind developers claimed “you will not hear them.”

Then the four hundred and fifty foot wind towers with their bus-size nacelles and three-bladed fans were built. Sixteen in Sheffield, four on Georgia Mountain, twenty-one in Lowell. And neighbors learned the truth. Yes, you can hear them. They sound like “a jet plane that never lands,” or “sneakers in a drier,” or there is a “thump thump thump” or a “whoosh whoosh whoosh” as the blade passes the tower, causing something called amplitude modulation.

“If the noise was the same all the time, maybe we could get used to it,” say some exasperated neighbors.

Wind turbine neighbors talk about feeling a deep rhythmic rumble inside their homes. “We feel the vibrations over the TV set,” they say. That is the Low Frequency Noise.

Some farmers living five miles from the Lowell wind turbines talk about the side of the barn vibrating. The Nelsons, who had no choice but to sell their jewel of a farm in Lowell to Green Mountain Power due to their deteriorating health and quality of life, saw the windows in their house vibrate, and the vibrations were visible in a bowl of water on the kitchen counter.

Some neighbors experience the barometric pressure waves that hit their homes, turning the house into a drum, producing inaudible infrasound inside the home at higher levels than outside. “Imagine you are sitting at your kitchen table and are seasick, except you are not on a boat and nowhere near water,” says one former neighbor whose family became so sick[i] after living 3500 feet from the wind turbines that they abandoned their home of seventeen years.

Infrasound cannot be heard, but it has been scientifically proven by recent studies to be a component of the acoustical profile of wind turbines.[ii],[iii],[iv] The vortexing pressure waves do not dissipate and can go out for miles.

This complex acoustical profile of wind turbines creates a challenge for regulators and the experts they rely on. Typical noise control measures such as insulating the source or insulating the receptor do not work with an open air source and a receptor that experiences higher levels of infrasound inside the home than outside. And people have a right to have their windows open. Insulation does not work.

The unique noise produced by wind turbines does not create a problem for the wind industry, though. “There are no problems,” is their attitude. “It’s all in their heads,” they say. “The “nocebo effect” is at work,” they claim, alleging that people’s beliefs are making them sick.

They heap ridicule on neighbors who are victimized once by the wind turbines themselves, a second time by the industry which refuses to accept responsibility, and a third time by regulators who have turned a deaf ear to the hundreds of complaints filed by Vermonters since mountaintop wind turbines began operating.

A unanimous vote by the Vermont House last year affirmed that there is a problem. The legislature directed the Vermont Public Service Board to right the wrong that has occurred.

The PSB has issued a rule that sets a night-time level of 35 dBA (audible decibels). This has resulted in a shrill response from wind proponents who absurdly claim that this standard, which is the nighttime noise standard for wind turbines in Germany, would outlaw bird songs.

Here is a short course on wind turbines and decibel levels:

  • dBA is audible decibels. Nighttime background noise levels in the areas where wind turbines have been constructed are about 20 dBA. 10 dBA above background is well known to result in complaints. It is the noise standard that has been used in Massachusetts for decades. By that measure, the correct standard for wind turbines in the very quiet areas where wind turbines are being built would be 30 dBA – lower than the PSB is proposing.
  • dBC is the frequency scale for Low Frequency Noise. Denmark has an interior noise standard of 20 dBC.[v]
  • The best solution for protecting people from infrasound is distance. The PSB rule has a 10x total height setback, or 5000 feet for 500 foot tall wind turbines, the same as places in Germany. It may not be far enough, but it is a step in the right direction.

The wind developers have made big promises. Now they have promises to keep–so their neighbours don’t have miles to go before they sleep. And the Vermont Public Service Board should establish standards that reflect those promises.

[i] http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0174420

[ii] http://www.pacifichydro.com.au/english/our-communities/communities/cape-bridgewater-acoustic-study-report/

[iii] https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=https%3A%2F%2Fdocs.wind-watch.org%2FShirley-LFN-infrasound.pdf

[iv] https://www.acousticecology.org/wind/winddocs/health/Ambrose%20Rand_Bruce%20McPherson%20Infrasound%20and%20Low%20Frequency%20Noise%20Study.pdf

[v] http://eng.mst.dk/topics/noise/wind-turbines/wind-turbine-regulations/

Posted in Dr Sarah Laurie; Steve Cooper; Bob McMurtry; Alun Evans, EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, NREAP; National Renewable Energy Action Plan; EU Commission; Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee; ACCC, Planning and Development Act 2000; guidelines; directives; Sections 28 & 29, Wind Farm Guidelines, turbines, flicker, noise, distance, Denis Naughten, Wind Turbine Syndrome; Professor Alun Evans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Top Sleep Specialist Slams ‘Nocebo’ Nonsense: Wind Turbine Noise Obvious Cause of Sleep Deprivation

More ammunition for those families intending to sue wind farms who have ruined their lives.

STOP THESE THINGS

Dr Wayne Spring is a sleep specialist with a lifetime’s experience of dealing with those suffering from sleep deprivation from all manner of causes. Recently, Dr Spring went into print, slamming those from the wind-cult who spend their time deriding the wind industry’s victims, rather than listening.

One of its victims, who will never be silenced, is STT Champion, Annie Gardner who let rip in the Hamilton Spectator with this thumping letter to the editor, picking up Dr Spring’s sharpest points along the way.

WIND TURBINE IMPACTS ECHO SEASICKNESS
Hamilton Spectator
29 April 2017

IT’S most important that Dr Wayne Spring’s willingness to expose his experience of treating many wind farm victims, referred to him for sleep deprivation, is released to the people in your readership area, particularly as so many will become exposed to the same problems particularly around Macarthur and Oaklands Hill. Below are excerpts from Dr Wayne…

View original post 1,170 more words

Posted in EirGrid; Insurance; Law; Cancer; EMF | Leave a comment

Bill Bailey. He’s Unbelievable!

williambailey-140x140

The Irish nation were privileged to meet Bill Bailey on Prime Time. He was erroneously introduced as a “medical doctor” but neither he, nor his erstwhile collaborator, Fintan Slye of EirGrid, bothered to correct the mistake.

Dr Bill thereafter went against mainstream medical opinion (on which he was not qualified to speak) by announcing that pylons and their EMF was completely safe. You can hear that here.

Well, he is at it again folks. I reproduce in its entirety, an excellent article by an American journalist, Nancy West.

Is NH Getting ‘Hoodwinked’ on Health and Safety By Northern Pass?

Critics of Dr. William Bailey’s testimony at last week’s Northern Pass hearings that the project poses no threat to public health and safety call him a “hired gun” out to serve only the interests of the controversial 192-mile high-voltage transmission line proposed to run from Pittsburg to Deerfield.

Dr. Denis Henshaw, a retired professor of Human Radiation Effects at the University of Bristol in England, called Bailey a “professional denialist” after reviewing his testimony that is posted on the state Site Evaluation Committee’s website.

“The public is being completely hoodwinked about this, completely hoodwinked,” Henshaw said.
It’s not about taking sides on various transmission projects, he said.  “The truth is EMF (electromagnetic fields) are bad for you. That’s what the evidence says,” Henshaw said.In fact, the truth about the dangers associated with high voltage transmission lines is the exact opposite of the impression Bailey tried to convey in his testimony, Henshaw said. “I find it incredible there isn’t some properly argued evidence at this New Hampshire hearing.”

Henshaw and others questioned how Bailey could tout powerline safety after he served on an international panel 16 years ago that unanimously found electromagnetic fields pose a possible leukemia risk to children.

Bailey and Dr. Gary Johnson, both employees of Exponent, Inc., testified last week for Northern Pass/Eversource Energy before the state Site Evaluation Committee that will ultimately approve or deny Northern Pass’ application for the $1.6 billion project.

Bailey, who was hired to evaluate the potential effects of Northern Pass on public health and safety, didn’t return messages seeking comment. Exponent, Inc., also didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Northern Pass spokesperson Martin Murray replied by email.

“Dr. William Bailey is an internationally recognized expert in the potential effects of electric and magnetic fields, and Dr. Gary Johnson has extensive experience with the audible noise, radio noise, and ozone that may be produced by high voltage power systems. Both experts are highly qualified to assess the Northern Pass project and provide objective testimony to the SEC. An important factor in the decision to retain the services of Exponent Inc. was the company’s recognition for independence and integrity,” Murray said.

Murray also said it wouldn’t be proper to interview Bailey and Johnson “as active expert witnesses in an ongoing adjudicative process.”

UAlbany expert

Dr. David Carpenter, a public health physician who serves as director of the Institute for Health and the Environment, said studies that show a link to childhood leukemia from electromagnetic fields were almost all funded by the government or independent agencies, while the ones that found no association were paid for by the electric industry.
The World Health Organization has said exposure to magnetic fields from AC transmission lines is a known possible human carcinogen and found strong evidence that there is an increase in leukemia in children exposed to high magnetic fields, Carpenter said.He believes Bailey relies on publications funded by the electric utility industry. “That is such a blatant conflict of interest in my judgement, that those studies do not deserve attention,” said Carpenter, who is also a professor of environmental health sciences at UAlbany’s School of Public Health.

Childhood leukemia is the best documented, but there is also a lot of evidence of a link to brain cancer and breast cancer, Carpenter said.

“I recommend they position high-voltage power lines as far away from residences as possible and particularly as far away from daycares and schools as possible,” Carpenter said.

Studies show beyond about 300 meters, there is no elevated risk of leukemia, he said. The farther away, the better, he said. Buried lines are very safe, he said, referring to AC lines.

Concord hearings

Bailey testified last week under pointed cross-examination by several people including Counsel for the Public Peter Roth and Deerfield intervenor Maureen Quinn.

According to Northern Pass’ website, the transmission line would carry DC, or direct current, from Pittsburg to Franklin, then AC, or alternating current, in the more heavily populated areas from Franklin to Deerfield through Concord. The transmission lines would bring 1,090 megawatts of hydroelectricity from Hydro-Quebec through New Hampshire to the New England grid.

Attorney Roth questioned Bailey at last week’s hearing about a public meeting in Holderness on March 14th of last year, saying Bailey quoted the World Health Organization in saying “that the evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences of exposure to low level electromagnetic fields.”

Roth pressed Bailey as to why he didn’t go on to explain from the WHO web page that there are gaps in what is known. He asked Bailey to look further down the WHO page where it said: “A number of epidemiological studies suggest small increases in risk of childhood leukemia with exposure to low frequency magnetic fields in the home.”

Roth said: “Now, you didn’t quote that in your testimony or provide that to the people in Holderness, did you?”Bailey finally conceded: “Not in Holderness. Not in Holderness.”More than two dozen quasi-judicial hearings on Northern Pass are planned through July starting Monday, May 1. The state Site Evaluation Committee will decide by Sept. 30 whether to approve or deny Northern Pass’ application.UK experienceDr. Henshaw, the retired professor at the University of Bristol, said he first came across Bailey at the Beauly to Denny (Scotland) Powerline Enquiry in 2005. Henshaw represented the objectors as an expert witness.

“The trouble with Bailey is that his science is so very weak, unsound and flawed,” Henshaw said.

As to Bailey’s testimony in Concord about health effects of transmission lines, “It’s like getting in a time machine and going back 20 years when knowledge was very primitive,” Henshaw said.

While much of the attention relative to health effects is relegated to AC lines, there is also a lot of evidence that electrical fields from DC lines have the same effects as magnetic fields, Henshaw said.

The DC lines are not true DC because they contain fluctuations in the currents being carried known as “dirty electricity,” which generate magnetic fields, and less research has been done on them, Henshaw said.

Henshaw also brought up a scholarly paper that was published in April in which Bailey is listed as an author. It asks the contributors to disclose outside interests, but doesn’t show Bailey disclosed any interests.

“Bailey actually gives his address as Exponent. I find that incredible,” Henshaw said. “His address is Exponent which specializes in representing industry.”  The publisher of the paper didn’t immediately respond to an email inquiry.

The Tweet

Louis Slesin, PhD, editor and publisher of Microwave News based in New York City, Tweeted about the April article circling Bailey’s name, the words “no competing interests” and “Exponent” under author’s details.

“Bailey’s been a hired gun ever since I can remember,” Slesin said. “He’s there to protect the interests of the client. I’ve seen him in action many times,” Slesin said.

Slesin, too, noted Bailey’s participation in the 2002 study. “He was there when the decision was made to classify it as a human carcinogen.” The decision was unanimous, he said.

Slesin wrote about Bailey in a Microwave News post on Nov. 26, 2013 when Bailey was a consultant to EirGrid, the Irish state-owned power line company, at the time.

Slesin wrote: “Bill Bailey of Exponent, a consultant to EirGrid, was flown in from the U.S. to sit in the studio audience and support (CEO) Slye. The scientific evidence, he said, does not demonstrate a health risk from exposure to EMFs encountered in daily life.”

The audience jeered in response, Slesin wrote.

Exponent, Inc.

Dr. Stanton Glantz of the UC San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, has followed the work of Exponent, Inc.

“(Exponent experts) have worked for tobacco companies, chemical companies, just about anybody you can imagine. They basically specialize in coming up with scientific looking reports that serve the needs of their clients,” Glantz said. “They did a lot of work for the tobacco industry contesting the evidence that second-hand smoke was dangerous.”

Exponent also did a lot of work for Toyota, he said, referencing a Los Angeles Times article. “If you cast things as your expert opinion, you can get away with a lot of stuff. You can make a lot of money.”

There’s a small number of firms that specialize in science denialism and obfuscation, Glantz said. “They are one of the bigger ones,” he said of Exponent, Inc.

FairWarning wrote about Exponent, Inc., last December. The New York Times ran a long piece about Exponent’s work in the Deflategate scandal.

Deerfield intervenor

Maureen Quinn, an intervenor with the non-abutting Ashland-Deerfield property owners group, is a semi-retired public health nurse who retired as a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service, eight of those years working with children who suffered from various forms of cancer.

She questioned Bailey about a number of studies that show a 1 1/2 times to a doubling of the risk of childhood leukemia associated with powerline magnetic field exposure. While the science can’t explain why it happens, the numbers should make people in New Hampshire wary, Quinn said.

“Bailey wants to support electric utility projects because that’s who’s signing his paycheck,” Quinn said.

“I just really think it’s important that people understand we could be potentially putting people’s lives at risk for something that is not necessary for regional energy needs…
“We don’t want to be putting people at greater risk when there are alternatives and we are not meeting a critical need,” Quinn said.”

Well done Nancy West. This was a great piece of investigative journalism. Something your Irish counterparts could learn from.

Posted in Academic Research; Peer-Review Process; Medical Journals, Dr Sarah Laurie; Steve Cooper; Bob McMurtry; Alun Evans, EirGrid; Insurance; Law; Cancer; EMF, Nancy West | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Undeniable Proof: Wind Turbine Noise Causes Serious Adverse Health Effects

Another great resource. Lots of very useful information in your pending action against your local wind farm.

STOP THESE THINGS

A couple of years back, STT produced a timeline which highlighted how the wind industry and its pet acoustic consultants managed to set up ‘rules’ which have no relevance to the noise impacts experienced by wind farm neighbours and under which wind power outfits could ride roughshod over rural communities with complete impunity.

That post – Three Decades of Wind Industry Deception: A Chronology of a Global Conspiracy of Silence and Subterfuge – was picked up by not only those wind farm neighbours suffering adverse health effects, but by those in the scientific community involved in establishing the precise mechanism by which incessant, turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound causes adverse health effects, including sleep deprivation.

One of them is Canadian researcher, Carmen Krogh. Carmen has taken our timeline, brought it up to date and added scientific detail to what, for those suffering from wind turbine noise emissions, is a miserable…

View original post 53 more words

Posted in EirGrid; Insurance; Law; Cancer; EMF | Leave a comment

Suing Windfarms for Nuisance

Once again the Aussies take the lead. This is a DIY kit on how to sue windfarms in Aussie, including examples of Particulars of Claim. Clearly these must be changed to reflect Irish law and practice, but it is a great starting point, full of good ideas.

 

Over the last few weeks there has been an uptick in chatter about long dormant wind farm projects being resurrected, which has more to do with anxious developers hoping to offload their projects than any kind of renewed confidence in Australia’s precarious renewable energy policies. In the main, this rush of panicked activity is about […]

via First Strike: Communities Threatened by Wind Farms Gathering Own Noise Data to Later Sue Turbine Hosts & Developers in Nuisance — STOP THESE THINGS

Posted in BSB Community Energy Ltd, Democracy; Ireland; Fine Gael; Labour; Sinn Fein; Workers; Constitution, Dr Sarah Laurie; Steve Cooper; Bob McMurtry; Alun Evans, EIA Directive 2014/52/EU, EirGrid; Insurance; Law; Cancer; EMF, EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, Framore Limited, High Court; Judge Caroline Costello; John Callaghan; Leave to Appeal, Irish Farmers Association; IFA; wind farm contracts, Kilvinane Wind Farm Ltd; substituted consent, Law; High Court; Leave To Appeal; Environment, Legal Costs; Access to Justice; Courts, NREAP; National Renewable Energy Action Plan; EU Commission; Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee; ACCC, Pat Swords, Paudie Coffey; series compensation; Fine Gael; Alan Kelly; Alex White, Peremptory law; Directory Law; Planning and Devlopment Act of 2000, Planning and Development Act 2000; guidelines; directives; Sections 28 & 29, Planning Permission; Extension; Planning and Development Act, Wind Farm Contract, Wind Farm Guidelines, turbines, flicker, noise, distance, Denis Naughten, Wind Turbine Syndrome; Professor Alun Evans, Wind Turbines: Esen Fatma Kabadayi Whiting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

So you say you wanna Revolution?

peaceful protest

“You say you want a revolution

Well, you know

We all want to change the world

You tell me that it’s evolution

Well, you know

We all want to change the world

 

 

You say you’ll change the constitution

Well, you know

We all want to change your head

You tell me it’s the institution

Well, you know

You’d better free your mind instead.”

 

“Revolution” The Beatles (1968)   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGLGzRXY5Bw

 

At this time of year we in Ireland remember those brave men and women of the Easter Uprising. Whilst it is a huge event in Irish history, and the penultimate milestone in throwing off the English colonial yoke, it might be argued that the real revolution is yet to happen. The revolution of the mind. A fundamental change in how people think, and more specifically a fundamental change in how people think about those that govern them.

I am teaching in Germany at the moment, which is why this blog has not been published as regularly as it should be. However, Pat Swords published something the other day about the Swedish model of public participation, and that got me thinking about the docile nature of Irish politics, and how we just process the shit that politicians spew out, either accepting it or rejecting it, but never really providing an alternative version of our own.

Pat suggested that the key reason that Sweden was so successful, and this goes for the Nordic countries in general, is that the citizen is empowered by interacting in a transparent manner with local structures, in which there are strong checks and balances in relation to the decisions being made in that area. Hence, in that part of the world the citizen isn’t as frustrated with the political system, or with what is perceived as the injustices and corruption integral to the State apparatus. If an injustice is perceived, the citizen body will kick up a racket, supported by an investigative press, and things will happen. This is not to say that Sweden is a perfect political model, but when you compare it to Ireland, where all decisions are centralised and determined by (the inner sanctum of) the Cabinet and the Party Whip, and of course kept as far away from the citizen as possible (on a buried layer in a website, for example), it is certainly a far better model.

And what do we do? We moan and grumble for a couple of days, curse the cute hoors, and then live with it until the next mess comes along.

Pat further argued that public participation was around in those Nordic countries long before Aarhus, which is why the Aarhus Treaty was never a major issue with these countries, as it simply confirmed what was there already. On the other hand, successive governments (and the courts) have resisted and restricted and effectively hamstrung the Aarhus Treaty and its implementation in Ireland every step of the way.

The system of challenging planning decisions is also fundamentally more transparent and fair than the Irish model of appealing to the now infamous and thoroughly discredited An Bord Pleanala, followed by a judicial review on the narrowest grounds known in our law.

Contrast the Swedish model:

Appeal and administrative review

A final administrative decision may be appealed. A municipal decision is generally appealed to the regional county administrative board, and further to the land and environmental courts. The decision of a higher authority is, however, generally appealed to the land and environmental courts directly. The above-described governmental decisions may be subject to a specific judicial review procedure before the Supreme Administrative Court (Act 2006:304).

An administrative decision may also be reviewed by the original decision-making authority, independently of the appeal. The administrative authority has a legal duty (FL 27 §) to change a clearly incorrect decision, at least if such correction is simple and quick, but the decision cannot be to the detriment of other parties. This administrative review procedure is therefore of limited use in cases involving several parties of conflicting interests. Administrative review can be made in response to an application or on the authority’s own initiative. Administrative appeal is submitted to the decision-making authority for forwarding to the appellate body. This system provides opportunity for review and hence correcting an incorrect decision without having to go to court. In environmental cases there is no obligation to apply for such review before appealing an administrative decision.

The administrative appeals procedure in Sweden is as a rule reformatory and one of full appeal. This means that the administrative courts decide cases on the merits as well as legality of the appealed administrative decision, and that they can replace the appealed decision with a new one. Within the limits of the claim, the court takes on the role of the authority that made the appealed decision, and thus in principle acts as a public authority making an administrative decision. The ultimate responsibility for the investigation of the case rests with the court according to the “ex officio principle”. The point of departure is that the original decision-making authority should have ensured sufficient decision-making material, but if needed the court has to take on this responsibility. They should therefore look beyond the appealed decision and scrutinise the decision-making materials. The court may then order the parties to provide materials, or they can acquire it themselves. “

(https://e-justice.europa.eu/content_access_to_justice_in_environmental_matters-300-se-en.do?member=1 )

 

What a difference to our closed and effectively dead-end system, which is cost-prohibitive to most ordinary people. Can you imagine what our environmental groups could achieve, given the number of people with a good focused knowledge of environmental compliance, and not necessarily a lawyer or somebody with deep enough pockets to be able to afford a lawyer? We could really put the brakes on unsuitable development and the rape of our countryside.

What does the same person get here in Ireland? Sleepless nights and a permanent state of mental and physical exhaustion, brought about by the constant banging of your head against the bureaucratic brick wall.

And what else does active citizen participation bring, apart from a cleaner and healthier countryside? It brings happiness. There are five Nordic countries in the top 10 happiest countries of the world, in positions 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10. I deliberately chose Sweden as they are at number 10. In other words the system of civic participlation in the least happiest Nordic country is still way better than ours! See http://worldhappiness.report/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/03/HR17.pdf

So let us have a proper revolution, a revolution of the mind, of our attitudes, of getting off our arses and demanding greater transparency. This is the existing EU law, it is not a theoretical pipe-dream. However, it remains a pipe-dream unless we as citizens demand that it is properly implemented.

Posted in An Bord Pleanala; appeal; interested parties, Democracy; Ireland; Fine Gael; Labour; Sinn Fein; Workers; Constitution, Easter Uprising, 1916 Revolution, Independence, IRA., Freedom of Information; Access to Environmental Information; AIE; Commissioner for Environmental Information, lobbying; democracy; political process; general election, Pat Swords, Planning and Development Act 2000; guidelines; directives; Sections 28 & 29, Press Freedom, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters; Aarhus Convention; Aarhus Treaty | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cans can bounce (back)

6a0133f440106f970b01543247eaef970c

There have been a number of interesting comments on Nigel’s blog of last week, “Kicking Cans”. One of those was a link to a German article by a medical doctor on important new research regarding the dangers of infrasound emitted by wind turbines. The ever tenacious Nigel de Haas has again offered his literary and editing skills by providing a readable translation of this article, which I reproduce here (the highlights and spacing are mine):

 

DR. MED. THOMAS CARL STILLER

March 27, 2017

Infrasound – the boomerang of energy sources

Dr. Thomas Carl Stiller is a specialist physician of general medicine and co-founder of “Doctors for Emission Control” (AEFIS).

 

People living in proximity to wind power plants often describe their complaints concerning low-frequency noise (infrasound) from these plants as “I feel what you cannot hear.”

But what is the cause of infrasound, what impact does it have on people, what standards regulate the permissible sound emissions and what is the state of science on these issues?

Inaudible but biophysiologically effective sound is not science fiction but an increasing threat to health.

First, a few physical bases: sound is the pressure change in a medium such as air and spreads around the source. The lower the frequency, the more sound is transported in the air. Very low frequencies are also transmitted through closed buildings. As a result of acoustic reflections and superimpositions, it can then lead to excessively high sound pressure values. In general, sounds and noises are described by frequency, timbre and volume. The human ear can hear frequencies approximately in the range of 20,000 Hz, i.e., vibrations per second (high tones) to 20 Hz (low tones). The sound range above a frequency of 20,000 Hz is referred to as ultrasound, below 200 Hz as low-frequency sound, below 20 Hz as ultrasound. Both infrasound and ultrasound are no longer perceived by the ear, but the body has a subtle perception for infrasound, and some people are particularly sensitive to low-frequency sound. In nature, low-frequency vibrations are ubiquitous. For example, some migratory birds orient themselves by the noise of the sea which is transmitted over several hundred kilometres in the atmosphere.

The infrasound from wind turbines is still measurable for several kilometres1.

On the other hand, humans are often exposed to technically generated ultrasound in their immediate surroundings. In residential areas, in the age of energy efficiency regulations for new buildings, air heat pumps are increasingly used as energy sources, which are cheaper to purchase than many other heating systems. In operation, however, they are often annoying for the neighbours, if the compressors are too loud and run too long. Even more problematic are wind power plants, in particular the modern large plants, which are mostly placed in front of villages and settlements at a small distance from the housing development. A pressure wave is generated every time a rotor blade is passed in front of the tower; many people perceive this as periodic “thumping”, sometimes also at a distance of several kilometres. The consequences of technically generated infrasound are only gradually becoming understood. About 10 – 30 percent of the population is sensitive to infrasound radiation. These people, which in Germany number several million, develop numerous symptoms, which are now understood by more and more physicians. The lowfrequency oscillations from compressors and wind power plants cause stress reactions in these people, which manifest themselves in sleep disorders, concentration disorders, nausea, tinnitus, dysphasia, dizziness, cardiac arrhythmia, fatigue, depression and anxiety disorders, earaches and permanent hearing impairments.

From a physiological point of view, there is damage to the hair cells of the cortical organ of the auditory canal and to permanent irritation in cerebral arteries, such as the amygdala (anxiety centre)2.

Effects on the heart and blood vessels included diseased changes of the connective tissue in the arteries of the pericardium (heart bag) detected in experiments3 with animals which were exposed to infrasound for a long duration. Those affected cannot escape the effects of health and harassment. They are often ineffective for a long period of time. A neurobiological habituation of sensitive persons on technical infrasound is not known. It is often falsely asserted that the symptoms are attributable to the attitude of persons concerned about the sources of the infrasound. Unfortunately, this is not observed in medical practice; the symptoms are all sensitive.

Numerous international studies have been carried out over the last few years, but in Germany this research is not advanced and almost unknown at the political level. If the symptoms occur, however, those affected are often hardly in a position to react. Those who live in a residential area affected by low-frequency noise and infrasound radiation cannot usually move away if, for example, they have to sell their house, which has lost a lot of value due to nearby wind power plants.

Who can perform optimally in today’s working world if sleep deprived and unable to find peace and quiet in their home by pervasive infrasound loading4.

How long can those affected compensate for this healthily and financially? Infrasound-sensitive people are ensnared in a tragic dilemma: their complaints are not taken seriously and legally they do not go further because of the lack of emission control regulations.

The acoustician Steven Cooper, together with a wind farm operator in Australia, investigated the effects of infrasound on the local population. Local residents in the vicinity of a nearby wind park complained about the above symptoms. But they did not have the wind farm directly in front of them. Cooper had their symptoms recorded at an exact time and checked the correlation with the activity of the wind power plants; the symptoms were strongest when the wind power plants were particularly active5.

In Denmark, information on malformed foetuses and miscarriages on a mink farm where wind turbine installations were subsequently built, as well as frequent reports of disease symptoms of people near wind power plants, led to a moratorium on wind energy expansion, pending completion of investigation of the connections.

The subject of infrasound radiation has also been taken seriously for some time6.  All previously valid protection standards, such as the Technische Anleitung (TA) noise and the DIN 45680, are based on the assumption that only sound which can be perceived by the ear can be damaged7. Other forms of the perception of sound are excluded. The measurement regulations are also not helpful, since only sound above 8 Hz is measured, although modern instruments can also detect frequencies of <1 Hz and the infrasound range in the range 1 – 8 Hz causes particularly severe health impairments.

The prescribed sound measurements also average individual frequency peaks. They are based on the decibel A filter, which follows the human auditory curve in the audible sound range and measures on many different frequencies rather than linearly and narrowly, as would be appropriate to avoid health hazards in the infrasound range.

Furthermore, often obsolete measuring systems and microphones that do not measure accurately enough in the infrasonic range are still permitted within the scope of the currently valid regulations for measurement. As a result, the measurement of the sound phenomena that are harmful to human beings does not take place below 20 Hz. Since these measurement regulations are the basis for approval procedures for technical systems, they must be adapted to the current state of the art. There would be a direct effect if the standards and regulations for the approval procedures of technical installations were at the level of the international state of knowledge. Were the standards for sound pressure to correspond to the state of the art, the limits for infrasound pressure would be set lower, the models for the propagation of infrasound would correspond to the state of research and the construction of plants would be optimized in terms of emissions of low-frequency sound. If technical sources of infrasound radiation are not removed quickly and sustainably enough by wind turbines, public complaints will develop into a health boomerang with respect to energy sources.

A new national disease on a par with diabetes and cancer is now inevitable given the failure of governments to act. It is high time for politically responsible people to meet their protection obligation for humans and nature and to initiate the most important measures from the point of view of preventive medicine an immediate dismantling of wind power, greater minimum distances between humans and wind power plants, prioritise objective infrasound research coupled with modern measurement regulations in the corresponding DIN standards and stricter protective regulations directed at sound physics and biology.

 

Footnotes

1 Lars Ceranna, Gernot Hartmann & Manfred Henger; “The inaudible sound of wind turbines – infrasound measurements on a wind turbine north of Hanover, Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Unit B3.11, Seismology, 2004

2 AN Salt, JT Lichtenhan; “Perception-based protection from low-frequency sound may not be enough”; InterNoise 2012. http://oto2.wustl.edu/cochlea . AN Salt, JT Lichtenhan; “How does wind turbine noise affect people?”, 2014.

3 Alves-Pereira M, Castelo Branco NA; Prog. Biophys. Mol. Biol. 2007 Jan-Apr 93 (1-3): 256-79. Epub 2006 Aug 4; “Vibroacoustic disease: biological effects of infrasound and low-frequency noise elucidated by mechanotransduction cellular signaling”.

4 Claire Paller (2014). “Exploring the Association between Proximity to Industrial Wind Turbines and Self-Reported Health Outcomes in Ontario, Canada”; UWSpace, http://hdl.handle.net/10012/8268.

5 Steven Cooper; “Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm”; 44.5100.R7: MSC; Prepared for: Energy Pacific (Vic) Pty Ltd, Level 11, 474 Flinders Street, Melbourne VIC 3000, Date: 26th Nov, 2014.

6 Robert Koch Institute; “Infrasonic and low-frequency sound – a topic for environmental health protection in Germany?”, Communication from the Commission “Methods and quality assurance in environmental medicine”. Position paper of the doctors for emission control (www.aefis.de).

7 Standards: DIN 45680, 45401, 45651; Technical guidance noise (TA noise). “Acoustics – Attenuation of sound in outdoor propagation – Part 2: General calculation method”. DIN EN 61260: 2003-03; “Electroacoustics – Band filters for octaves and fractions of octaves”; DIN EN 61400-11; “Wind energy installations, Part 11: Sound-measurement methods, acoustics, electroacoustics”; “Standard frequencies for measurements” (retracted), “Octave filters for electroacoustic measurements” (withdrawn

Posted in Democracy; Ireland; Fine Gael; Labour; Sinn Fein; Workers; Constitution, Dr Sarah Laurie; Steve Cooper; Bob McMurtry; Alun Evans, EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, Planning and Development Act 2000; guidelines; directives; Sections 28 & 29, The Spokes of the Wheel; wind farms; Ireland; Windfall, Wind Farm Contract, Wind Farm Guidelines, turbines, flicker, noise, distance, Denis Naughten, Wind Turbine Syndrome; Professor Alun Evans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kicking Cans?

pass the buck

I have had too much on the go to be able to do another blog, so I am very happy to welcome an experienced wind warrior and ethical activist, Nigel de Haas, to tell us about his correspondence with the esteemed Minister.

Copies of the letters can be found at the end of the blog:

 

“A LOUD CLANG AS THE CAN GETS KICKED (AGAIN)

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment has responded to a letter that I wrote to him on 14th February by letter dated 27th March in which he has clarified the following points of public interest:
● A review of the Wind Energy Guidelines is a key commitment in the Programme for Government (May 2016);
● The review of Wind Energy Guidelines began in December 2013;
● This is a very technical area and engagement between the DCCAE and the DHPCLG is ongoing in order to bring the review to completion;
● The proposed new guidelines will be subject to SEA and associated public consultation before they are finalised by Government.

And so dear folks, having sat on their hands for three years since the close of public consultation, and having sat on the findings of the July 2015 RPS Report for two years and despite having committed to issuing the revised guidelines by November last year, the Minister and his Department intend to kick the can right out of the stadium, let alone down the road.

How far we have travelled from the lofty promises of the Programme for a Partnership Government, where Section 13.3.K) addressed the Rights of Local Communities and Indigenous Energy Generation with the words:

“The new Government understands the divisions and distress caused in local communities who feel that new energy infrastructure, like wind farms and pylons are imposed on them. The technology and scale of wind farms has evolved significantly since the last set of planning guidelines were introduced in 2006. As a matter of urgency the new Government will update the wind farm planning guidelines, within 3 to 6 months, to offer a better balance between the concerns of local communities and the need to invest in indigenous energy projects. These new planning guidelines will be informed by the public consultation process and best international practice”.

Words it seems are not the same as promises. Perhaps they are the new alternative reality? The subject of my letter to Minister Naughten of 14th February was the Public Disclosure finding by the Commissioner for Environmental Information in case CEI-15-0032 where he stated that:

“If disclosure were to lead to a submission being made to either or both Departments which was of such significance that it could not be ignored, such a submission would appear to be highly important and very much in the public interest.”

The disclosure referred to included a report commissioned by SEAI and prepared by RPS in 2015, showing that the size and ramifications of planned wind farm development far exceed the parameters in current use. Section 3.2.3 of the report states that the typical wind turbine size in any future development is likely to have a power rating of 3.5MW and a tip height of 150 to 175m (up to 190m in low-wind areas).

This is five (5) times larger than the 0.66MW wind turbines typically installed in 2006 when WEDG06 was issued.

Table 3.2 of the report shows that an estimated setback distance of 1209m would be necessary to meet the 40dB absolute noise limit proposed in the draft revision of WEGD06, and even with a 45dB limit the setback is estimated as 782m.

Compare these (Government-Commissioned Study) figures to Section 5.6 of WEDG06 which states:

“noise is unlikely to be a significant problem where the distance from the nearest turbine to any noise sensitive property is more than 500 metres”.

The disclosure is certainly of a significance that cannot be ignored, and it is indeed in the public interest that the following submission should be made:

The proposed revision to the Wind Energy Development Guidelines (WEDG06) is now three years overdue;
● The existing, obsolete guidelines do not afford proper protection to rural residents;
● The Government has been shown by the CEI-ordered disclosure above to have commissioned modelling that reinforces the point that WEDG06 does not afford proper protection to rural residents.

Public planning policy implemented by all administrations in Ireland over the past 50 years or more has supported dispersed rural housing rather than the consolidated settlement pattern found in continental Europe where farms are huge and farm labour lives in consolidated hamlets and villages. Irish farms have historically been small, and sons and daughters frequently build on parcels of land from the family farm, or farmers have sold off plots to people who prefer to live in the quiet of the countryside.

The direct consequence of this historic planning policy is that there is far less potential to develop wind farms in Ireland than there is in continental Europe, without adversely affecting the lives of large numbers of people who have their homes in rural Ireland. Key Objective 5.6.1 of the draft revision to WEDG06:

“seeks to achieve a balance between the protection of residential amenity of neighbouring communities in the vicinity of wind energy developments, and facilitating the meeting of national renewable energy targets”.

The Minister is not convinced; in his letter of 27th March he takes the following position on the RPS report and setback distances:

● Key to the (RPS) calculations were the accumulation of worst-case based scenarios meaning that the figures arrived at cannot always represent likely real world situations;
● The figures should therefore be considered as maximum theoretical distances at which wind farm noises can be detected at the specified levels, rather than as minimum distances required to reduce noise intensities to those levels;
● This highlights the complexity of the conditions under investigation in the review of the guidelines currently under way.

It is all sort of flexible, squeezy stuff. Especially a setback of 1209m, which the Minister considers to be a maximum theoretical distance at which wind farm noises can be detected at a level of 40dB (the noise level first mooted by his Department in the 2013 draft Targeted Revision of the Wind Energy Guidelines).

The long suffering residents of rural Ireland have a better chance of resolving how many angels can dance on the head of a pin than getting any reasonable level of protection against inappropriately closely sited wind farms from the Ministers of DCCAE and DHPCLG any time soon.

And in the intervening period, more and more wind farms will happily pass through the planning process bound only by the outdated 500m setback, 43/45dB noise limit and permissible levels of shadow flicker.

Whatever happened to the concerned Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Environment who told the Dáil on 6th October 2016 that “I am as anxious as anybody else to have these new guidelines put in place as the current guidelines are not fit for purpose”?

Nigel de Haas
Dunmanway, Co. Cork.

Letter to Minister from Nigel

Reply to Nigel from Minister

Posted in Irish Farmers Association; IFA; wind farm contracts, NREAP; National Renewable Energy Action Plan; EU Commission; Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee; ACCC, Planning and Development Act 2000; guidelines; directives; Sections 28 & 29, Wind Farm Guidelines, turbines, flicker, noise, distance, Denis Naughten, Wind Turbine Syndrome; Professor Alun Evans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Minister concedes to setback and zoning for wind farms in Donegal

Well done Councillor Campbell! We need more like you!

Concerned About Wind Turbines - Donegal

In the end Minister Coveney skulked out of the legal hearings which would have tested his powers under section 31 of the Planning and Development Act to overturn the democratically passed variation no. 2 to Donegal County Development Plan, dealing with wind energy development.

Councillor John Campbell who took the legal challenge announced the end of this, his second successful foray in the courts against a Ministerial direction, on twitter, where he also highlighted the extent of the shameful delaying tactics of the Minister and his Department:

What is notable is that when tested neither the Minister nor his Department were able to open any documents or arguments in support of their position in court, they merely…

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Wind energy is not the answer to Ireland’s emission problem

A beautifully written piece, compelling in its logic and fundamental common sense, by Paula Byrne, who is the spokesperson for Wind Aware Ireland.

Paula Byrne

(Image and text courtesy of the Irish Times)

“Claims by the the Government and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) that wind power can be used to de-carbonise our energy system are not justified by the available evidence. A rudimentary cost benefit analysis (CBA) to examine ways of decarbonising would have shown how deeply flawed this policy is.

Moneypoint power station, alone, produces 4.7 million tonnes of CO2 annually by burning cheap imported coal, twice the amount our collective 1,500 turbines save. Wind turbines spread over some of the most beautiful parts of Ireland save a paltry 3 to 4 per cent of overall CO2 emissions according to the SEAI (2.4 million tonnes) and less according to other analysts.

If a CBA had been undertaken, it is most likely that converting Moneypoint to sustainable biomass or clean gas would have emerged as a better option than wind, saving billions of euros, with better environmental outcomes. Likewise, upgrading our present stock of badly insulated homes may have been identified as another viable option. A Green minister and a powerful lobby group meant that no CBA was carried out and none of these options properly explored before industrial wind was rolled out.

Because the wind doesn’t always blow, wind turbines produce about 30 per cent of their maximum potential output. Electricity is very difficult to store and to date no feasible, cost effective, grid-scale storage technology suitable for Ireland has emerged. Consequently, intermittent electricity must always be backed up by conventional generation to provide power on demand – a basic expectation in Ireland. No conventional generation has been closed down because of wind.

The Public Spending Code mandates the appraisal and evaluation of any project with capital expenditure of more than €20 million by means of CBA. Furthermore, projects and plans with environmental implications must be evaluated according to the European Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive, which provides a high level of protection to the environment as well as giving citizens the right to participate in environmental decisions. Both assessments require consideration of alternative methods of achieving the objective of CO2 emission reduction, yet neither has been carried out.

The social impacts of wind energy in rural Ireland are enormous. The wind industry continues to operate a ruthless cloak-and-dagger, divide-and-conquer strategy. “Community gain funds” and payouts have resulted in disharmony and disagreement among neighbours, sometimes causing major family fallouts.

Turbine construction is governed by out-dated planning guidelines – described by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, in Dáil Eireann as “unfit for purpose” – which allow them just 500m from homes, sometimes resulting in devastating consequences for families. The issue of noise from turbines recently made the headlines when Enercon Wind Farm Services Ireland Ltd admitted liability for nuisance caused to seven families who abandoned their homes in 2011 due to noise. Other affected families will probably take similar court actions.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has known since 2015 that the minimum setback distance of a turbine from a house required to protect human health from noise is far greater than that currently recommended. This information, which emerged from an Access to Environmental Information enquiry, was kept under departmental wraps and publication of updated planning guidelines promised by the Minister within six months of this government’s formation have been repeatedly postponed.

Currently wind turbines are reaching heights of 160m and heading for 250m. The devastation of our landscape is happening and accelerating, affecting communities forced to live in this industrialised landscape, tourists visiting Ireland and natural habitats.

Wind energy generation is heavily subsidised. The Public Service Obligation paid to the wind industry reached €240 million this year. The dispersed nature of wind farms and their intermittent output requires the electricity grid to be upgraded at an estimated cost of €3.5 billion, another unaccounted-for subsidy to the industry borne by consumers. In addition, the government forgoes revenue by allowing tax breaks to wind-farm investors.

The Minister continues to support a misguided and uncosted policy that delivers little for the environment at enormous cost to our economy and landscape, and which threatens the health and well-being of rural dwellers upon whom these industrial developments are forced. Promises were made to rural Ireland before the last election; the Minister and this government have broken them.

The continued failure to ask basic questions and the unwavering support for wind energy without even a rudimentary CBA is reminiscent of the politics that mismanaged the Irish economy into bankruptcy in 2008. It would seem that we are doomed to repeat the exercise in the field of renewable energy.”

Posted in Academic Research; Peer-Review Process; Medical Journals, Dr Sarah Laurie; Steve Cooper; Bob McMurtry; Alun Evans, EIA Directive 2014/52/EU, EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, Green Party; Ireland; Eamonn Ryan; Cormac Manning, Ms Justice Costello; Section 37A Planning and Development Act 2000;, NREAP; National Renewable Energy Action Plan; EU Commission; Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee; ACCC, Planning and Development Act 2000; guidelines; directives; Sections 28 & 29, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA); Grid 25; North-South Interconnector, Wind Farm Guidelines, turbines, flicker, noise, distance, Denis Naughten | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Hidden Human Tragedy Caused by Incessant Wind Turbine Noise

“A minimum 1.25 mile setback.” These are the distances we should be talking about in Ireland. In other words, at least 2 km (2000 metres).

STOP THESE THINGS

wind-turbines-near-house

Helen Schwiesow Parker, PhD, is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and a Past Clinical Supervisory Faculty member at the University of Virginia Medical School.  Her career includes practical experience in the fields of autism, sensory perception, memory and learning, attention deficit and anxiety disorders, including panic disorder and PTSD.

In this well-crafted piece, Helen details the misery and suffering which is caused by incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound and maliciously covered up by the wind industry and its political enablers.

The Secret, Silent Wind Power Peril
Master Resource
Helen Schwiesow Parker
7 February 2017

The General Problem

“From a distance, many view the massive turbines as majestic – as a clean, seemingly quiet and free source of endless energy. To numerous residents clustered within 2km (1.25 miles) or more of the pulsing machines, however, the Industrial-scale Wind Turbines (IWT) bring strangely debilitating illness – incapacitating for some, yet scoffed at by the…

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Have Your Say! Revision of Wind Energy Development Guidelines 2006

denis-the-menace-naughten

Minister Denis Naughten

That excellent web site Concerned About Wind Turbines – Donegal  (CAWT) has put important and previously cunningly concealed information into the public domain by an AIE request to our old friends, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Despite the Department playing hide-the-parcel, the Commissioner for Environmental Information( CEI) gave them a slap on the head and told them to reveal their dark secrets.

See:
https://cawtdonegal.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/irish-government-modelling-of-wind-energy-potential/

The Commissioner made it clear that the information should have been made available to the public before any decision was made by the Department. The Commissioner also pointed out that this would enable the public to make submissions before any decisions were made.

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It is a very sorry state of affairs when a Commissioner has to tell the government how democracy works. Hang your head, Minister Naughten, and off to the Naughty Corner you go.

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http://www.ocei.gov.ie/en/Decisions/Decisions-List/Damien-McCallig-and-The-Department-of-Communications-Climate-Action-and-Environment-CEI-15-0032-.html

The documents that the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment were trying to hide consist of a report on Wind Turbine Noise Modelling commissioned from the RPG Group by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (on behalf of the Department) dated 11 May 2015 and a series of subsequent data analyses against varied criteria up to 13 July 2015.

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Startling New Information

When one considers that this was supposed to be a “tame report” filed under ‘His Master’s Voice’, it actually makes for very interesting reading. The report shows that the current clearance distances being discussed by the Department are woefully inadequate given the typical wind turbine size in any future development. Current wind turbines are likely to have (at least) a power rating of 3.5MW and a tip height of 150 to 175m (up to 200m in low-wind areas).  This is five (5) times larger than the 0.66MW wind turbines typically installed in 2006 when the current Guidelines were issued.

Table 3.2 of the report shows that an estimated setback distance of 1209m (i.e. 1.2 km) would be the absolute minimum distance necessary to meet the 40dB absolute noise limit proposed in the draft revision of the Wind Guidelines. Many argue that this 40dB limit is still not enough to ensure there is no distress caused to people in their homes, which means we should really be looking at 1.5 km; which is triple the current 500 metres!

The AIE has completely exposed the severely flawed planning policies being pursued by the current Government, and confirms what we all knew already – the current Guidelines offer absolutely no protection to rural residents.  The Government’s current action of sticking their heads in the sand whilst countless families are driven from their homes cannot be allowed to continue.

As pointed out on numerous occasions in previous blogs (and in our arguments to the UN), Ireland does not have the legacy of planned rural settlements like our European cousins, where a consolidated settlement pattern has been implemented for decades, even centuries. Their farms are huge and farm labour lives in consolidated hamlets and villages.  Irish farms have historically been small, and sons and daughters frequently build on parcels of land from the family farm, or farmers sell off plots to people who prefer to live in the quiet of the countryside. This means there are little farms and houses dotted haphazardly all over the place, and the spaces between people’s homes are not big enough to accommodate big industrial wind farms, particularly when they should be at least 1500 metres from the nearest house.

If we look at the draft Guidelines currently being circulated, “Key Objective 5.6.1” says it

“seeks to achieve a balance between the protection of residential amenity of neighbouring communities in the vicinity of wind energy developments, and facilitating the meeting of national renewable energy targets”.

The reality is the opposite of this claim – as turbines get more powerful, so the harm that they cause to people will also increase. Ireland was never really big enough for wind farms in 2006, but now it is an impossible dream without hurting a lot of people.

Planning is all about balancing competing interests.  The key tool used for this is Zoning Policy, whereby any industrial machinery or plants are kept well away from residential areas by appropriate zoning.  Industrial activities are directed to areas zoned for industrial use and homes are built in areas zoned for residential use.  This is a sensible approach that has stood the test of time. It is also not rocket science, just common sense.

However, when the issue of wind farms is put on the table, the rule book is thrown out of the window. How can this be lawful? It is illegal and unfair on so many levels.

What can we do about this?

The Department received submissions from 7,497 individuals and organisations in response to the public consultation on the proposed draft revisions to the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines in relation to noise, setbacks and shadow flicker.

The Department’s web site currently states that following consideration of the submissions,  the revisions to the Guidelines will be finalised and issued to planning authorities under Section 28 of the Planning and Development  Act 2000 (as amended) during Quarter 3 2014.

http://www.housing.gov.ie/planning/guidelines/wind-energy/submissions

In other words, they are trying to tell us that the consultation is over. But how can there be a proper consultation without proper information?  The AIE Commissioner is also clearly of the view that further consultation should be allowed, given the discovery of this information that has been hidden from us.

We now know that for 18 months the Government has been hiding this information which clearly shows that the current setback of 500 metres is useless in protecting rural residents. Remembering that this is a “friendly” commissioned report, and that wind turbines are getting bigger and more powerful all the time, we should really be looking at a minimum setback distances of 1500 metres. Remembering that it takes the government over a decade to replace guidelines, perhaps we should plan for the future (a foreign concept to the Minister, it would seem) and ask for a setback distance of 2000 metres?

What must happen now is that each and every one of us to need make submissions to both Ministers, and to each of our constituency TDs and to each of our local County Councillors to let them know in no uncertain terms that we demand immediate action on bringing in proper protection against wind farms by having an effective setback distance of at least 1500 metres, preferably 2000 metres.

There were 7497 submissions back in 2013 – we can do better than that now!

 A template letter in Word format is attached here:   letter-template-wind-guidelines-2017         Please edit to taste and send to the Ministers and all your public representatives.  CAWT Donegal has opened the door – let’s use the opportunity!

Addresses

The Minister

Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

29 – 31 Adelaide Road

Dublin

D02 X285

The Minister

Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government

Custom House

Dublin 1

D01 W6X0

Posted in An Bord Pleanala; appeal; interested parties, BSB Community Energy Ltd, Democracy; Ireland; Fine Gael; Labour; Sinn Fein; Workers; Constitution, Dr Sarah Laurie; Steve Cooper; Bob McMurtry; Alun Evans, EIA Directive 2014/52/EU, EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, Framore Limited, Freedom of Information; Access to Environmental Information; AIE; Commissioner for Environmental Information, Green Party; Ireland; Eamonn Ryan; Cormac Manning, Irish Farmers Association; IFA; wind farm contracts, Kilvinane Wind Farm Ltd; substituted consent, Ministerial Responsibility; Liability; Negligence; cardiovascular, Pat Swords, Peremptory law; Directory Law; Planning and Devlopment Act of 2000, Planning and Development Act 2000; guidelines; directives; Sections 28 & 29, Planning Permission; Extension; Planning and Development Act, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters; Aarhus Convention; Aarhus Treaty, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA); Grid 25; North-South Interconnector, The Spokes of the Wheel; wind farms; Ireland; Windfall, The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Wind Farm Guidelines, turbines, flicker, noise, distance, Denis Naughten, Wind Turbine Syndrome; Professor Alun Evans, Wind Turbines: Esen Fatma Kabadayi Whiting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

It’s official – wind farms are a damned Nuisance

 

 

The tort of Nuisance – basic principles

The law of (private) nuisance has been around for a long time but it has always been a poor neighbour to the more commonly litigated torts of negligence and trespass.

In a nutshell, a nuisance is “any continuous activity or state of affairs causing a substantial and unreasonable interference with a [claimant’s] land or his use or enjoyment of that land”(Bamford v Turnley [1860] 3 B&S 62).  Private nuisance is a tort or civil wrong, unlike public nuisance, which is a crime.

Something that farmers leasing their land to wind farms might not know is that a landlord can be liable where the lease is granted for a purpose which constitutes a nuisance, as in Tetley v Chitty [1986] 1 All ER 663.

For there to be a claim in private nuisance, the claimant must show that the defendant’s actions caused damage. This can be physical damage, or discomfort and inconvenience. The test for remoteness of damage in nuisance is reasonable foreseeability. In other words, was it foreseeable that a wind turbine will cause discomfort and inconvenience to nearby dwellings?  The test is an objective one: was the nuisance reasonably foreseeable? If it was, the defendant is expected to avoid it.

It is impossible to specifically define what is or what is not unreasonable but factors that are taken into account include the nature of the locality where the nuisance took place, the time and duration of the interference and the conduct of the defendant.

The plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions have caused an interference with their use or enjoyment of their land or home/property. These interferences are indirect, and almost always the result of continuing events rather than a one-off incident. The courts have allowed cases where the interference causes emotional distress, like continuous noise / infrasound for example.

The granting of planning permission does not constitute immunity from a claim in nuisance.

 

The families of Shivnen, Whelan/Walsh, Sexton, Sheehan, Duggan, McSweeney and O’Connor, versus Enercon Wind Farm Services  Ireland Limited and Carraigcannon Wind Farm Limited

It was with considerable interest then that we waited for the outcome of the action in nuisance brought by the seven families from Cork who were impacted by noise pollution from a nearby Enercon wind farm. A number of the families had to abandon their homes because of the severity of the noise and some lived up to a full kilometre from the wind farm.

A judgment against the wind farm would have constituted a powerful precedent to be used against the wind industry given the multitude of examples of Irish families living in misery due to unwelcome turbine neighbours. It was for that reason that the defendant settled the matter (probably at the instance of, and financial assistance from, IWEA). Although settlements are always better for the parties concerned as it avoids the huge emotional and financial cost of litigation, it does mean that we do not have that precedent in Irish law (although there are a number of foreign precedents – see https://the-law-is-my-oyster.com/2014/11/16/are-windfarms-torture-farms/).

Although the defendant wind farm admitted liability (nuisance-order-dec-2016) the wind industry will seek to minimise this by arguing that this was a “one-off” situation for any fallacious reason that they can think of: “the unique terrain; the extraordinary sensitivity of the plaintiffs; etc etc.” Expect a carefully worded press release soon in your nearest rag.

There is still one more opportunity to achieve a damning precedent though. The case is listed for ten days in the High Court commencing 25th April 2017 to deal with damages and costs. If the High Court was to make a massive award of damages (i.e. in the millions of euros) that would send a very strong message to the wind industry that Ireland is simply not suitable to build wind farms, due to the scattered population leaving very little wide open spaces. If they insist on erecting their monsters next to people’s homes, they must be prepared to pay a lot of money, which is what the wind industry is all about anyway – money. Don’t believe all the “green” rhetoric – if you hit them hard in the pocket, they will leave, our subsidies notwithstanding.

It is for that reason that there will very likely be a financial settlement. Good news for the families involved – they can avoid the ten days of litigation and get on with their lives, after a very hard five-year fight. Bad news for the Irish rural population, as again there will be no precedent and it is guaranteed that the settlement will come with a gag order that will prohibit any of the families disclosing the details of the financial settlement. One would almost pray for a wealthy benefactor to compensate the families up front so that the ten days’ litigation could continue (assuming that the notoriously conservative High Court would hand down a decent damages award in the millions). Any friendly millionaires out there willing to step up to the plate?

 

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Irish wind output lows of 2016

All the best CAWT for 2017 – keep up the good work!

Concerned About Wind Turbines - Donegal

2016-wind-low

As 2016 begins to fade into the memory the media will be full of lists of the “highs and lows” from the year.  Each year our blog report of the Irish wind farm output lows for the previous year (see 2014, 2015) is one of the most read posts on our blog, so here are the lows for 2016 (ROI).

As with last year our more traditional media only seem capable of reporting on wind output highs – no doubt the data is churned out of the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) PR department, see for example New records set for wind energy generation across Ireland during Christmas 2016, and subsequent copy and paste articles on Irish Times and NewsTalk.

In order to provide a little balance set out below is a table of the lowest wind output recorded, for the Republic of Ireland, in each of the…

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Clueless!

headuparse

Irish rural communities have been opposing wind farms, and pylons before that, for the better part of a decade. This has involved community groups gathering funds through church collections, cake sales, and the like. There are numerous tales of hardship where communities have had to beg, borrow and steal every penny they can get in order to fund a judicial review application. And yet, in November 2016, an elected “representative” in our Dail (the Irish parliament) can ask a question like this:

“I thank Dr. Kelly for her presentation and her staff for coming before the committee. There are a few things I wish to ask. I notice that An Bord Pleanála generally tries to make a decision on an application in 15 or 16 weeks. The one thing that stood out was the number of wind farm applications that were receiving refusals. I know that may be down to the court case and the court judgement, but there certainly seems to be many of them judging by the presentation Dr. Kelly made.

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Increasingly, members have residents coming to us and asking about the judicial review process. We all tell them that it is a very costly affair and that they cannot afford to deal with it. That is a big problem. Do we have a rough idea of what a judicial review costs? I know it probably depends and varies, but I would like to get a rough idea. We have had some cases in which people have been requesting it.”

What is even richer is that he asks his equally clueless colleagues rather than getting off his arse and researching the matter himself. Did he even think of leaving his constituency office and approaching the community group?

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God help us. ‘Cute hoors’ indeed. Is it any wonder that the voters have lost faith with the system and elect a Trump?

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When the Boot is on the other Foot

 

 

Section 50 of the Planning and Development Act of 2000 (PDA 2000) is possibly one of the most unpopular sections when it comes to community organisations who battle big business, particularly wind farm developers. This is due to the fact that Section 50 limits their rights of redress against bad planning decisions to judicial review only.

 

As explained in previous blogs, the grounds of review are necessarily more limited and narrow than the grounds of appeal. With a judicial review, one is not able to challenge the decision itself (the merits) – in other words, “I think you are wrong”. The applicant is limited to challenging the procedure followed in reaching that decision, as opposed to the decision itself. The only challenge that is allowed against the decision itself is on the grounds of unreasonableness or irrationality, where essentially you have to show that the decision made is so crazy that only a lunatic could have made it (the so-called “Wednesbury Test”).

 

What however is good for the goose is good for the gander. If the planning authority is successfully overturned on review, they are expected to live with that decision. Accordingly, the planning authority’s scope of appeal is extremely limited:

Section 50(f)(i) of the PDA 2000 says that the decision of the review court is final, with only an extremely limited ground for appeal:

“The determination of the High Court of an application for leave to apply for judicial review, or of an application for judicial review, shall be final and no appeal shall lie from the decision of the High Court to the Supreme Court in either case, except with the leave of the High Court, which leave shall only be granted where the High Court certifies that its decision involves a point of law of exceptional public importance and that it is desirable in the public interest that an appeal should be taken to the Supreme Court.”

In other words, where a decision of An Bord Pleanala (ABP) is successfully challenged on review, ABP can only appeal that judgment to the Supreme Court if the High Court allows it to appeal. The High Court will only do that if it considers that its appeal raises points of law of “exceptional public importance”.

 

 

The facts

In the original case of Kathleen Connolly v An Bord Pleanála [2016] IEHC 322 (14 June 2016) a wind farm developer made a planning application to Clare County Council for a wind farm consisting of a number of turbines and associated works. The application was refused by the Council, and the wind farm developer appealed to ABP.

 

As is its usual procedure, the ABP appointed an inspector to prepare a report. The Clare County Council (following Kathleen Connolly’s submissions) had expressed concern about issues regarding habitat protection, the risk of water pollution, as well as issues concerning the assessment of noise and environmental effect, and the inspector was briefed accordingly.

 

The ABP also called on the developer to submit further specific information and revisions. This was by a notice issued in terms of Section 132 of the PDA 2000, which allows the ABP, in its absolute discretion, to request documents of any party to an appeal against a planning decision.

 

The wind farm developer supplied this additional information to ABP. Without giving proper reasons for its decision, and without giving the person who had successfully prevented the planning permission a proper chance to inspect these documents and formulate a reply, the ABP reversed the refusal and granted planning permission for the wind farm.

 

Judge Barrett of the High Court found against the ABP on review. The judge held that when making a decision, the ABP must provide

complete, precise and definitive findings and conclusions of a degree of specificity sufficient that a party minded to seek judicial review of such determination can turn readily to the particular observations, reasoning and conclusions contained in its decisions”.

In other words, the ABP must explain its decision and the reasons therefor in clear detail so that if a person wants to challenge that decision, they know and understand exactly what reasons they need to challenge and why. Similarly, if the ABP rely on any “particular report or text”, that report or text must be identified properly so that a challenger can read it and familiarise themselves with its contents. The ABP did not do so in this case and therefore the ABP was in contravention of ss.177V(1) and 172(1J) of the PDA 2000.

 

The ABP were clearly not happy campers, as this meant that a potentially huge wind farm was going down the drain, and so they appealed Judge Barrett’s decision. However, –  and this is where the fun starts  –  in order to be allowed to appeal, they had to convince Judge Barrett that their points of appeal raised points of law of “exceptional public importance.

 

Needless to say, they failed miserably.

 

Judge Barrett was ruthless as he destroyed ABP’s groundless arguments with surgical precision.

 

He opened his attack with a left-right combination which must have left ABP bleeding from the nose:

 

“That a point of law may relate to a matter of some private significance does not suffice to convert it into “ a point of law of exceptional public importance ”, even where the party claiming such a point to arise is a public body. Moreover, a point of law of exceptional public importance is, by its nature, not just a point of law of public importance (itself a difficult enough hurdle to jump) but of a degree of public importance that is exceptional (a still higher hurdle to be vaulted). In this last regard, the court cannot but note that in the within case it is claimed that the court’s judgment of 14th June last raises up to seven points of law of exceptional public importance; in Aherne & ors v. An Bord Pleanála & ors [2016] IEHC 536, a very recent s.50 judgment that issued while the text of the within judgment was being finalised, some six points of law of exceptional public importance were claimed to arise (all of which were rejected by the court in that case). That two judgments would be contended to raise, between them, some thirteen points of law of exceptional public importance suggests, at the very least, that there is something of a yawning chasm growing between bar and bench as to the true nature of exceptionality.”

 

Ouch!  Real meaning: “Just because it’s important to you , doesn’t necessarily make it important to anybody else. ABP, stop wasting our time”.

 

The ABP argued that Judge Barrett’s decision in Connolly contradicted a number of previous findings of the High Court. The judge dispatched that attack with a backhand slap:

 

“Far from presenting some divergence in case-law, the court expressly concluded, at para. 29 of its judgment of 14th June, that it saw nothing in, inter alia, the decision in Balz, “that would cause it to depart from or vary the reasoning applied, or conclusions reached, in this judgment” . The court remains of that view.”

 

Oooh!  Real meaning: “Did you even read those cases?

 

The ABP then asked what procedure needed to be followed when it did not agree with all or part of its Inspector’s report (which seems to be happening with increasing frequency):

“It is not entirely clear to the court that these are truly points of law; the questions seem to involve the An Bord Pleanála seeking direction as to its practices and procedures. But insofar as these questions do raise points of law as to the applicable obligations, those have been answered clearly in the court’s judgment of 14th June last. Section 172(1J) is plain in its meaning and effect; no cause for certification arises. The court will, therefore, decline to certify Questions [1] and [2].”

 

Oooff!  Real meaning: “Why are you asking me how to do your job?”

 

The ABP then asked the judge what would be the legal consequences of it carrying out an inadequate screening assessment in terms of Section 177U(6) of the PDA 2000?

“Section 177U(6) is clear in meaning and purport. It requires that An Bord Pleanála record and give notice of a positive screening for appropriate assessment. An appropriate assessment done without recording and notifying the screening determination is not done in accordance with law. Thus it does not seem to the court that there is any point of law arising: the statutory duty arising is clear, and there is an abundance of case-law on the consequences of breach of statutory duty. The court will therefore decline to certify Question [3].”

 

Ow!  Real meaning: Can you read?

 

Clearly desperate at this stage, the ABP then put forward a number of very confusing and contradictory questions, and the judge, clearly at the end of his tether, dealt with them all in one fell swoop:

 

“There is nothing uncertain about the obligations presenting for An Bord Pleanála in this regard: they are clearly set out in European law and in the decisions of Sweetman and Kelly, which were applied by the court in its judgment of 14th June. Indeed, to the extent that there is any issue arising in this regard, and the court does not consider that there is, it would arise (if it arose, and it does not) from those earlier decisions, not from the court’s decision of 14th June.”.

 

Ugh!!  Real meaning: “Now you’re just taking the piss!”

 

For too long now ABP have been making decisions without clear explanations as to what they considered in coming to their decision, and their deductive reasoning employed in reaching that decision, particularly when it appoints an inspector and then ignores his report. This judgment is a clear message from the High Court that this type of carry-on will no longer be tolerated.

 

Well done Judge Barrett. Respect!

 

 

“And it’s a left hook, a right hook, another left / right uppercut combination, and ABP is down, it’s down!”

 

“It’s all over, the ref has stopped the fight.”

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Spain anger over ‘energy poverty’ deaths

granny

An aspect of the renewable energy policy that governments choose to ignore – the rapidly increasing price of electricity and carbon fuels, with the people who need them most being unable to afford what many would regard as a fundamental necessity.

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

H/Ts Joe Public/Wolsten

image

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-38024374

From the BBC:

Spain’s economy may be recovering, but the recent deaths of a 12-year-old girl and an 81-year-old woman in house fires are reminders of the hardship that millions of households still face in the country’s deep-rooted crisis.

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How the Council Spends Our Money — Citizens Against Corruption

Congratulations to the Four Angry Ladies on starting this site, and asking questions that most are too scared to ask.

I would ask two more:

  1. The link between the Comeragh Community Development Group and BSB Energy has already been established. It would be interesting to know what the link between BSB Energy and the hydro station company and/or the Waterford Energy co-op company is? Do the same names appear again and again?
  2. Given that the 105000 euro was public money, did the construction job of the road go out to public tender in terms of public procurement law? For example, the documentation records that on 14 July 2014 CCDG paid Eddie Cunningham Plant Hire the sum of €7933.65. That job should have been put out to tender in terms of the public procurement for services law, or else there could be a perception by the tax-paying public that there is a danger that this becomes “jobs for the boys”.

The other legal aspect that needs to be mentioned is that bogs have recently been the subject of a new EU legal initiative.

The Climate Change Strategy recognises the role of peatland habitats as carbon stores and the significant carbon releases as a result of degradation.

In addition, the Environmental Liability Directive (2004/35/EC) is about preventing and remedying environmental damage. It aims to hold operators whose activities have caused environmental damage financially liable for remedying this damage, and it aims to hold those whose activities have caused an imminent threat of environmental damage liable for taking preventive actions. This most certainly applies to both the WCCC and the CCDG.

Finally, the National Biodiversity Plan recognises that wetlands are of special importance to biodiversity in Ireland. The biodiversity plan mentions that all significant drainage, including initial drainage and maintenance drainage, will require assessment of its implications for biodiversity, and particularly for wetlands. This most certainly applies to the ancient bog in the Mahon Falls valley.

Clearly there are laws that have been broken. The question is – who will enforce this law?

 

We all share wonderful memories of the Mahon Falls – as children going for walks with our parents, as teenagers meeting that special someone in the carpark, and until recently, as grandparents taking their grandchildren along the beautiful path to the Falls themselves. But that beauty has been badly damaged by a deep scar running […]

via How the Council Spends Our Money — Citizens Against Corruption

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Facts and Figures

cro-logo

 

My blog yesterday aroused a huge amount of interest. People expressed shock and surprise at the news that a company cannot be forced to declare a dividend. It is not always fun being the bearer of bad news but I would rather inform my community about what they need to hear, than keep them in the dark by telling them only what they want to hear. As was said more than once at the Monday meeting: we must deal in facts and figures, not spin or hoopla.

 

The other query that I received was asking me where I got my figures concerning the Templederry wind farm that I presented in my talk on Monday. I got them from the company documents that I received from the CRO. If you want to see the whole document, click on the link below:

templederry-windfarm-limited-financial-statement-2015

 

I would like an accountant or auditor to look at the whole document and give us an easy-to-understand explanation on exactly what it means. I am not qualified to do that, and I can only show what I see, without offering any interpretation of what I see, as that is not within my expertise.

My first opinion was that the “community” wind farm was in fact owned by another holding company. The reason I said that is because that is what the CRO document said. Here is a scan of that particular section:

director-remuneration

I also said that despite the shareholders not receiving a red cent, the Directors had been paid, as they are legally entitled to be. You can see that in the above scan, and it also appears earlier in the document, on the previous page:

wages-templederry

Finally, and this was the one that upset the most people, the question of profits and their distribution to shareholders. This is the section that I showed on Monday night, and it says “profit for the year”.  I take that to mean a profit was made by the wind farm? I know that if it was a loss, it would appear in brackets. People have taken this to mean that despite the wind farm making a profit in both 2014 and 2015, the community did not receive a cent.

 

Are these people correct in their interpretation? When people asked me that on the phone, I was careful to say that I did not know, as that is not in my expertise, which is what I also said on Monday night. Again, I would ask that an accountant or auditor please write in my comments section and explain to us what this means. Were there profits of over half a million euro made by the end of 2015?

 

reconciliation-templederry

 

DISCLAIMER: I am not an accountant or auditor. I simply read what was in front of me and others have done the same. If I have somehow misinterpreted these documents, I will hold my hand up and apologise, and I will print a full retraction and apology on this blog. This is about the facts. This is not some sort of vindictive witch-hunt.

I eagerly await the comments of those more qualified than I.

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