Newstalk FM reported (after an airing of the Pat Kenny Show) that:
“A government minister has not ruled out moving people away from areas where wind farms may be built.
Energy Minister Alex White says: “That has happened in other countries – I’ve seen that happening in other countries”.”
I have been researching the basis for the Minister’s claim (for a day now) but I have been unable to find any examples of other countries forcibly moving citizens to make way for wind farms in particular. There are many examples of people being forced from their homes due to the proximity of wind farms, but these were a consequence of wind farms, rather than in anticipation of wind farms. In addition, it was not a government-sponsored or sanctioned relocation, but rather a question of people fleeing from the health hazards posed by infrasound, flicker and habitat contamination, for example.
My research did uncover other examples of state sanctioned relocation of people living in the country (or culchies, as we are known in Ireland):
Kulaks were a group of relatively affluent farmers in the early Soviet Union, primarily during the reign of Josef Stalin. Resettlement of people officially designated as kulaks continued until early 1950. Large numbers of kulaks, regardless of their nationality, were resettled to Siberia and Central Asia. According to data from Soviet archives, which were published in 1990, 1,803,392 people were sent to labour colonies and camps in 1930 and 1931. Books say that 1,317,022 reached the destination. The reported number of kulaks and their relatives who had died in labour colonies from 1932 to 1940 was 389,521, but it is accepted that the official figures only reflect a small proportion of those who actually died, whose numbers would run into many millions.
(See Rosefielde, Steven (2009). Red Holocaust. Routledge. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-415-77757-5.)
From 1960 to 1983, the apartheid government in South Africa forcibly moved 3.5 million black South Africans in one of the largest mass removals of people in modern history. During the 1950s and 1960s, large-scale removals of people of colour were carried out to implement the Group Areas Act, which mandated residential segregation throughout the country. More than 860,000 people were forced to move in order to divide and control racially-separate communities. Black South Africans were forcibly removed to distant segregated townships, sometimes 30 kilometers (19 miles) from places of employment in the central cities. Black South-African farm labourers made up the largest number of forcibly removed people. While this process has happened in many other countries, in South Africa these rural residents were not permitted to move to towns to find new jobs. Instead, they were segregated into desperately poor and overcrowded rural areas where there were no job prospects. Removals were an essential tool of the apartheid government’s Bantustan (or homeland) policy aimed at stripping all black South Africans of any political rights as well as their citizenship in South Africa. Hundreds of thousands of black South Africans were moved to resettlement camps in the bantustans with no services or jobs. These were dumping grounds for black South Africans who were “superfluous to the labour market,” as a 1967 government circular called them.
See Cherrly Walker and Laurine Platzkey “The Surplus People: Forced Removals in South Africa” Johannesburg: Ravan Press (1980).
Closer to home, the Highland Clearances were the forced displacement during the 18th and 19th centuries of a significant number of people from traditional land tenancies in the highlands of Scotland. These farmers practiced small-scale agriculture, which was incompatible with the wishes of the aristocratic landowners, (supported by Westminster), to change from farming to sheep raising (and grazing). A Highland Clearance has been defined as “an enforced simultaneous eviction of all families living in a given area such as an entire glen.”
Watson, A. and Allan, E., “Depopulation by clearances and non-enforced emigration in the north-east Highlands”, Northern Scotland 10 (1990), Edinburgh University Press
There are many other historical examples of people living in the country being displaced from their homes in furtherance of some misguided government policy, but these three examples will suffice.
Perhaps Minister White could tell us whether these were the countries he was referring to, or did he have others in mind? Or will this be another “first” for Ireland?
The other question that Minister White needs to answer is that if wind farms are not injurious to our health, as he has consistently claimed, then why is it necessary to move people at all?