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.”
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:
The full Report in Portuguese can be found here:
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.