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?

Good week/bad week: winners and losers in Irish farming
We take a look at who had a week to remember in Irish farming and who had a week to forget.

It was a good week for…

  • Farmers in the Sheep Welfare Scheme, as the Department of Agriculture confirmed that payments under the scheme are to issue from the end of November.
  • Beef factories, after an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar defended their right to make a profit from the industry.
  • Farmers in general, as more farmers are set to gain from the new Areas of Natural Constraint maps which will be released this month.
  • The Irish Farmers Journal, as it took home the Digital Excellence award at the 2018 Newsbrands Ireland Journalism Awards held in the Mansion House on 15 November.
  • It was a bad week for. . .

  • Aurivo suppliers, as it announced a 1c/l price cut for October milk, with suppliers receiving a base price of 29.4c/l excluding VAT.
  • UK prime minister Theresa May, as despite finally coming to agreement with the EU on a withdrawal agreement, her Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and work and pensions secretary Esther McVey resigned.
  • Those in the Fair Deal scheme, as further delays appear to be in store for long-awaited changes to the nursing home scheme.
  • Some farmers, as despite updated legislation and Government guidelines, some actively farmed land remains on the register of sites carrying a heavy tax liability in the new year.
    The farmer's daily wrap: plant-based 'steak' and Nuffield conference
    Here is your news roundup of the five top farming stories and weather outlook for 17 November.

    Weather forecast

    Saturday is forecast to be a mostly dry day, with a few patches of mist and drizzle.

    Met Éireann has said that cloud will break at times to allow a few bright or sunny spells through.

    Top temperatures will vary between 11°C to 14°C.

    In the news

  • A new plant-based ‘steak’ appeared on the shelves in Tesco Ireland this week.
  • Looking at the weekend weather, it will be mostly fine and sunny, with some mist and drizzle in parts.
  • Payments to farmers under year two of the Sheep Welfare Scheme are due to hit accounts by the end of November.
  • Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended the right of beef factories to make a profit from the industry.
  • Leadership and the ability to attract good people to work on dairy farms dominated the conversation at this year’s Nuffield Ireland annual conference in Dublin on Friday.
  • Coming up this Saturday

  • More details on the Shannon dredging points.
  • Five reasons you should go to Dairy Day 2018.
  • We go island-hopping - Mayo style.
    EU cuts tax on Russian fertiliser by one third
    The one-third cut in anti-dumping duty is equal to €12/t on CAN.

    The EU Commission has cut duties on Russian ammonium nitrate by one third, raising the prospect of more competition in supply of nitrogen fertilisers and downward pressure on prices.

    The decision follows the Commission’s two-year review of the anti-dumping duties, made at the request of the IFA and other EU farm organisations. The duties have been in place for decades.

    Change

    The change, confirmed this week in the Official Journal of the European Union, sees duties cut from €47/t to €32/t for most grades of ammonium nitrate.

    The reduction equates to €12/t on CAN, according to the IFA.

    This would protect farmers and help restore incomes and competitiveness

    “Irish fertiliser suppliers must reflect this reduction in CAN prices to the trade,” IFA Munster chair John Coughlan said.

    He also called for a change in how fertiliser prices are quoted to farmers.

    “Many merchants complain that they can’t obtain quotes from importers or blenders. That needs to change.

    "Irish merchants should move to quoting for fertiliser on a 24/7 basis, reflecting the way business is done from manufacturers to blenders and distributors.”

    2019 review

    The EU Commission will carry out a periodic review of its anti-dumping duties on Russian ammonium nitrate in 2019.

    IFA president Joe Healy said that the Commission should introduce a minimum import price system.

    “This would protect farmers and help restore incomes and competitiveness. Some EU manufacturers have become accustomed to double-digit profit margins due to the protection afforded by EU anti-dumping duties and customs tariff.”

    Read more

    Analysis: are we entering a period of fertiliser price rises?

    EU on track to cut fertiliser tax