The Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA), the national body representing the wind energy sector in Ireland has today (27 March) strongly welcomed an opinion poll conducted on its behalf by Ipsos MRBI which revealed that 80% of the Irish public support wind power. This opinion poll was taken from 916 respondents.
Reacting to this opinion poll, Kenneth Matthews, CEO of IWEA said, “This is a clear indication that there is widespread support for wind energy in Ireland. The support shown for the installation of wind farms emphasises that many Irish people see wind energy as a real alternative which will help stabilise their energy bills and also benefit Ireland in terms of jobs and investment to the local economy.
“The strong support for wind, as illustrated through this poll, should serve as a positive marker for policy-makers to continue the transition to a green economy and embrace all of the benefits that can be accrued”.
IWEA’s Annual Conference, “Irish Wind Power – Our Competitive Advantage”, taking place today (27 March), also saw the publication of its “Best Practice Principles in Community Engagement & Community Commitment” policy document which sets out a number of clear of guidelines that IWEA members involved in wind development are encouraged to follow. The aim of these guidelines is to ensure that the views of local communities are taken into account at all stages of a development and that local communities can share in the benefits.
Speaking at the Conference, Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte said, “I very much welcome the initiative of the IWEA to develop these voluntary community engagement and community commitment guidelines for their members. The imperatives of climate change and energy security necessitate the switch to renewable energy. Ireland has abundant and excellent wind resources which will play a central part in our new electricity mix.”
Kenneth Matthews, referring to IWEA’s document also said, “It is essential that local communities are engaged and consulted and IWEA’s best practice principles showcase how this can and should be done. The community and its support are an essential part of every wind development in Ireland and we’re confident this policy document outlines a responsible approach to ensuring continual long-term local support for such developments.
“Not only will widespread community engagement bring local support for wind developments, it will have significant economic and environmental benefits. Already, wind energy provided approximately €11.5m in local authority rates in 2012.
“There are many excellent examples of initiatives involving positive engagement and delivery of tangible social and economic benefits for local communities from IWEA members, which often go unreported. Some examples include:
– The Bindoo, Gartnaneane & Mullananalt farms in Co. Cavan and Co. Monaghan have allowed Airtricity to award almost €600,000 to community groups in areas surrounding the wind farms since 2006.
– Mountain Lodge Wind Farm in Co. Cavan, an ESB and Galetech Energy Ltd development has set up a community fund in the area which supports local groups and projects. The fund is for the benefit for the entire community near the wind farm and aims to support projects under the following headings: Recreation, Education, Health, Environment/Sustainability and Culture.
“Effective and sensitive siting of wind farms will serve to increase the net benefits Ireland will experience in terms of jobs, investment and environmental conservation, while at all times keeping the community at the heart of it all,” concluded Matthews.