Windfarms and the Irish Horse Racing Industry


The thoroughbred industry in Ireland is highly successful and globally competitive. It directly employs approximately 14,000 individuals and thousands more indirectly. It made a direct economic contribution of nearly €1.1 billion to the Irish economy in 2012.

Love them or hate them, it is a fact that racehorse owners are key drivers of wider industry economic activity in this country. Their activity supports the direct economic activity of hundreds of horse breeding and training operations spread throughout the country as well as supporting the indirect economic activity of the off-course betting industry.

It goes further than just money though. As anybody with even a passing interest in horses or betting knows, there is a national fervour around the subject. As Alan Dukes, the famous commentator on all things horses, said:

“Thoroughbred horses and horse racing are an integral part of “Irishness”, not only for us Irish but also for millions of people all around the world. Breeders, racehorse owners and trainers everywhere know and respect their Irish counterparts. Racing fans all over the world know what good sport is to be had in Ireland and they know that Irish-bred horses are a force to be reckoned with on racecourses everywhere.”

Click to access Dukes-Report-II-October-2013-Update.pdf


Accordingly, any threat to this industry has potentially huge ramifications for the Irish economy as a whole, not just to the owners and breeders, but to everyone with an interest in the horse racing industry, directly or indirectly, and financial or recreational or both.

It is therefore with a sense of alarm that one reads about the result of an authoritative and influential Portuguese research study linking wind turbines with birth defects in horses. The Portuguese take their horses (at least) as seriously as the Irish, and therefore this Report merits a careful read.

The study concluded that a high incidence of acquired flexural limb deformities were as a direct result of the proximity of a windfarm to the stud farm in question, where the vibration and noise caused by the turbines resulted in acquired flexural deformation of the distal interphalangeal joint in foals.

An English summary of the Report can be found here:

Click to access Flexural-deformation-in-foals.pdf

The full Report in Portuguese can be found here:

Click to access Deforma%C3%A7ao%20flexural%20adquirida%20da%20articula%C3%A7ao%20interfalangica%20distal%20em%20poldros.pdf

Of course, the question that needs to be raised but that everyone is too scared to ask is: If windfarms are affecting horses in such a crippling way, what effect will their noise and vibrations have on the cattle and sheep that form the basis of another multi-billion Irish industry?

The notion that these windfarm monstrosities are somehow essential for our economic revival / survival is palpable nonsense. It is clear that the damage they cause, not just to our pockets but to our quality of life, to the surrounding flora and fauna, and to the environment as a whole (by contaminating groundwater for example) far outweighs any economic or environmental benefits, if one assumes the dubious premise that there are any benefits in the first place.

About Neil van Dokkum

Neil van Dokkum (B. SocSc; LLB; LLM; PGC Con.Lit) Neil is a law lecturer and has been so since arriving in Ireland from South Africa in 2002. Prior to that Neil worked in a leading firm of solicitors from 1987-1992, before being admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa (a barrister) in 1992. He published three books in South Africa on employment law and unfair dismissal, as well as being published in numerous national and international peer-reviewed journals. Neil currently specialises in employment law, medical negligence law, family law and child protection law. He dabbles in EU law (procurement and energy). Neil retired from full-time practice in 2002 to take up a lecturing post. He has published three books since then, “Nursing Law for Irish Students (2005); “Evidence” (2007); and “Nursing Law for Students in Ireland” (2011). His current interest is the area of disability as a politico-economic construct. Neil is very happily married to Fiona, and they have two sons, Rory and Ian.
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8 Responses to Windfarms and the Irish Horse Racing Industry

  1. John says:

    Read the report – “Given the mechanical forces produced by TE [wind turbine] deployed on land adjacent to the stud, and we can not definitively conclude as to its responsibility in the process,…” A direct result? Really?

    • Neil van Dokkum says:

      Actually John, if you read the whole Report (even better when you read the original report in Portuguese) you will see that the methodology involved an environmental comparison whereby all environmental factors were compared before and after and found that the only new environmental factor was the wind farm, all other factors were constant. In addition the nature and extent of the abnormalities began occurring after the deployment of the wind farm. That is pretty direct in my book. Isto é uma prova!

  2. The renewable energy sector place great stock on the concept of sustainability. It would be patently foolish to pursue policies that are not sustainable. So what is “Sustainability”?
    The existing indigenous Irish industries adversely affected by wind energy include tourism, the thoroughbred horse industry and agriculture. These have been at the heart of Irish employment for centuries – does it make sense to destroy these in the name of a new wisdom that may or may not stand the test of time?
    According to the IWEA web site today (14 Nov 2014), there is 2.19GW of installed wind capacity in the Republic of Ireland. Roughly half of peak national demand. Common sense would suggest diversification of additional renewable energy into alternative technologies.
    The current over-emphasis of wind not only places all our eggs in one basket, but also serves to destroy industries that have been developed over generations and proven to be sustainable. Where is the logic and sustainability in that?

  3. John says:

    In your book okay, but not in the researchers that actually conducted the study. – it’s a suggestion not definite and stating otherwise is spin. Just sayin’

    • Neil van Dokkum says:

      Fair enough John – this is a forum for debate and all views are welcome. It is common academic practice to refrain from making hard and definite conclusions in your conclusion/executive summary as there is always the recognition that field research is not infallible, however I would suggest that the facts speak for themselves and if you read about the actual trials conducted and the methodologies used, it becomes inescapable that the wind farm and the abnormalities are linked. I would certainly be prepared to argue that in court on a balance of probabilities.

  4. Neil van Dokkum says:

    Indeed Nigel, and the irony is bitter indeed when the authorities acknowledge that people will suffer discomfort etc from these wind farms but thereafter claim that their sacrifice is necessary for our economic recovery. Pure mumbo-jumbo.

  5. Pingback: FACT: Wind Turbines Make You Sick. | The Law is my Oyster

  6. Pingback: There is Absolutely NO Doubt About It….Wind Turbines Make People SICK! | "Mothers Against Wind Turbines™" Phoenix Rising…

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