Rural community group objects to wind farm investment proposal
Protect Rural Ireland, made up of rural communities throughout the country, has objected to the latest plans from Minister for Energy Alex White to allow rural communities to invest in wind turbines.

The plans, reported in national media on Tuesday, encourage communities to invest in wind farms in a move aimed at increasing support for the controversial projects. Confirming the accuracy of the media reports today to the Irish Farmers Journal, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources said Minister White believes there is “scope for more community involvement, including stakeholding, in renewable energy infrastructure”. The full proposal will be published in the White Paper later this year.

The chair of Protect Rural Ireland and Windaware Ireland, Henry Fingleton, says this latest plan is a tactic to steer away from the main issue.

“The fact is that people in rural communities don’t want wind farms,” he said. “This proposal by the Minister is a Dublin 4 solution to a rural problem.”

Fingleton referenced a 2013 study carried out by the London School of Economics which found that larger wind farms of 20 or more turbines reduce property values by up to 12% within 2km and by 3% at an 8km to 14km distance. He said: “Why would people invest in something that is going to devalue their farm or property?”

The plan being introduced by the Minister will allow rural communities to form co-operatives to erect turbines, something Fingleton says will turn local people against each other.

“It is a financial incentive, absolutely,” he said. “But the only thing it will succeed in doing will be to create division between people. Turbines intrude on the landscape, damage local wildlife, and impact on livestock. Some farmers will benefit from the rental income of having a wind turbine on their farm but the majority that I know are against them.”

He added that it is doubtful whether much carbon dioxide is being saved by wind farms. “We have nothing against renewable energy itself. The Minister would do better to look at converting Moneypoint [Ireland’s largest coal-generated electricity plant] into a biomass plant to save on energy costs.”

Fingleton, a part-time farmer from Co Laois, is one of the leading voices in the opposition to the erection of the Cullenagh wind farm in the county. In May, the Commercial Court dismissed a legal challenge from Fingleton and others to An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant permission to Coillte Teoranta to build 18 wind turbines in the area. The case is now waiting in the Court of Appeal.

Wind farms in Ireland

According to figures from the Irish Wind Energy Association, there are 195 wind farms in the Republic of Ireland, and 228 on the entire island. Approximately 18.3% of Ireland’s electricity came from wind in 2014, according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

In August this year, Minister White visited a renewable energy co-op on the Aran Islands, saying there is a case to be made for the islands serving as an example of how the country as a whole could benefit from the transition to low-carbon economy. Energy Co-operatives Ireland, who invited the Minister, says there are already five renewable energy co-ops in Ireland and these co-ops are a powerful force that "work together to inform Government policy and industry practices with some considerable success.”

ICOS

The Irish Co-operative Society (ICOS), an umbrella organisation that promotes commercial co-op businesses and enterprises across the Irish economy, responded more positively to the Minister's proposal, saying it “strongly supports the recognition from Minister White that a community co-operative-owned stake in wind projects should be the model of wind generation going forward.”

However, it added that until the detail of how communities are to be supported in developing these projects is published, the organisation will reserve its views as to the likely efficacy of any such proposals.

Siobhán Mehigan, co-operative development executive with ICOS, added that the “organisation is seeing a lot more communities looking to establish co-operatives to both contribute to the creation of a green energy market but also ensuring their communities are financially benefiting from the profits of these ventures.”

Emission reductions

Overall, Ireland must reduce its emissions by 20% between 2005 and 2020 under existing EU commitments.

Announcing the imminent publication of the White Paper, which will set out Ireland's energy policy up until 2030, Minister White said Ireland is "already making significant progress on the transition to a low-carbon economy, with an estimated 22.7% of electricity generated from renewable sources in 2014."

At world level, the UN is preparing for a major climate conference in Paris in December, aimed at reaching international agreement on a global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more: What do young farmers think of wind farms?

The farmer's daily wrap: Castleblayney, chlorothalonil and Brexit
Here is your news round-up of the five top farming stories and weather outlook for 23 March 2019.

Weather forecast

Saturday is forecast to be generally dry and bright, with good spells of sunshine through the day and just a few showers across Ulster.

Met Éireann has said that it will be a fairly cool day though, with highs of 7 to 9 degrees in light to moderate westerly breezes.

In the news

  • Farmers left unpaid by the liquidation of EP Nugent Ltd, the company operating Castleblayney Mart, have decided to take legal action.
  • The discontinuation of chlorothalonil is a hammer blow to Irish tillage farmers, Irish Grain Growers Group chair Bobby Miller has said.
  • There would be a 9.2% fall in primary and manufacturing employment in Monaghan if WTO tariffs were applied in a no-deal Brexit scenario.
  • There is a mixed bag of weather for the weekend ahead, but it will be mostly cool and dry on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Independent TD Denis Naughten has said that it is time for action on beef grading machines in meat factories.
  • Coming up this Saturday

  • Balla Mart report.
  • Good week/bad week.
  • Stories from the 2018 Irish Farmers Journal Agricultural Land Price Report.
    Pig prices are below the cost of production – IFA pig chair
    IFA pig chair Tom Hogan has said that price increases from the pig factories are not coming quick enough.

    The pig price is around €1.40c/kg to €1.46c/kg since it increased two weeks ago, but for most pig farmers, the increase in price is not coming quick enough, IFA pig chair Tom Hogan has said.

    He told the Irish Farmers Journal on Friday evening that the current prices are below the cost of production.

    “With feed costs at the moment, we would want to be getting €1.60c/kg. Feed costs haven’t come down as they usually do. The compounders should be pulling back on price.

    Another price rise

    “We got a price rise two weeks ago and the indications are that we could get another price wise, maybe as early as next week.

    “There is a positive outlook going forward, but for most people these increases are not coming quick enough,” he said.

    The IFA has said that there has been a slight decrease in the weekly pig kill and increased demand, which is helping to put more competition into the market place.

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    Watch: new Agri Aware campaign to air in cinemas and on TV
    The ‘Many Hats, One CAP’ advert is set to air on television and in cinemas in the coming weeks, with the campaign highlighting how important investment in agriculture is to the wider Irish economy.

    This week, Agri Aware launched its new 'Many Hats, One CAP' TV and cinema advert.

    Produced by Traction Marketing, the advert is part of a wider campaign which aims to promote and showcase how the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) affects everyday life in Ireland, whether that is subsidies paid to a farmer directly or the countless indirect knock-ons that keep rural Ireland alive.

    The launch took place at Movies Dundrum, Dublin, on Thursday evening, where both the full and short versions of the advert where premiered for the first time on screen.

    Rural landscape

    The ad itself follows a day in the life of a number of characters who make up the rural landscape in Ireland.

    From clips of rural entrepreneur and chef Edward Hayden cooking up a storm in his Graiguenamanagh cookery school, to farmer Kevin Moran up before dawn in Galway to milk his dairy herd, it gives viewers a glimpse into the role the agri-food industry plays.

    Agriculture is a huge economic multiplier, which keeps rural Ireland alive

    At the premiere, there was a panel of guest speakers which included Agri Aware chair Alan Jagoe and three of the stars in the ad; Hayden, Moran and Teagasc researcher Dr Dayle Johnston.

    Hosted by Marty Morrissey, the panel reiterated the point that agriculture is a huge economic multiplier, which keeps rural Ireland alive, and the CAP is central to that.

    Alan Jagoe spoke of the huge work, time and spend going behind the campaign.

    “It costs money to put it out there, but consumers and society need to know where their money is going and who they are supporting.

    "There needs to be an understanding and respect for the production costs and efforts that go into food production,” he stressed.

    2016 FBD young farmer of the year Kevin Moran made the point that CAP itself “is not just one thing – a subsidy for a farmer - it is much more than that; it’s an investment in food security, an investment in rural economies and this investment is invaluable to rural Ireland”.

    'Many Hats, One CAP' is a 12-month public information campaign that will go live across TV, radio, cinema, social media and print over the coming weeks.

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    Agri Aware, the CAP and Micheál

    'Farmers must tell their story' – new Agri Aware chair