Sunday, 18 March 2018

Media Hypocrisy on Leo's Wind Farm Gaffe

By Owen Martin

Image result for leo varadkar failte ireland
The email Leo Varadkar sent to Failte Ireland

There was much consternation in the media over Leo Varadkar's wind farm "gaffe" at the White House where he boasted that he rang the local council and managed to stop a wind farm from being built beside Trump's golf resort in County Clare. There was talk of cronyism and political favors. The facts turned out to be different. Varadkar, then the tourism minister, emailed the tourist board Failte Ireland advising that they make a submission on the development. Failte Ireland make submissions on planning applications all the time, including on wind farms. If one thinks logically about it, how could a tourist board not oppose a wind farm in a tourist region ? The only issue is should they really need prompting from a minister to know that a wind farm might damage tourism in an area

Compare the outrage from the media about Varadkar's comments to the appeasement when the Government announced they would change the planning rules to facilitate large multinationals by taking rights away from objectors to data centres (see here). Here, the government is not as much interfering in the planning system, but radically changing it to favour developers. There was no outcry from the media. There was no rally call to defend the rights of citizens. Suddenly, the concept of equality took a backseat to expediency and the latest fad of the day. 

In January of this year, the Irish Courts determined that An Bord Pleanala (the main planning authority in Ireland) must, in relation to European Union Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) :

    act as a clearing-house or framework coordinator for the development consent process. It is not a role that requires any substantive decisions to be taken regarding the acceptability of a proposed development  [Martin Vs An Bord Pleanala].

In other words, once the European Commission decides something needs to be built, the planning authorities in Ireland must approve it. The High Court also ruled that "it is not the function of An Bord Plean├íla to review government policy or to consider public submissions in relation to government policy. 

Once again, this ruling, which effectively limits the rights of citizens to challenge government and EU decisions, was ignored by the media. This is the kind of environment where cronyism thrives unchallenged and unhindered. Objections to developments based on logic and evidence can be easily dismissed. 

An independent and effective planning system is simply not possible with the current system, let alone with the system that is being planned to facilitate data centres. If the rights of citizens were protected in the planning system, then there wouldn't be any problem with cronyism or political favors as the system would have to take account of facts, evidence, transparency and due legal process.


  1. The Irish Planning procedures used in permitting wind farms ensure that output is not optimised. That wind shear will breakup and render useless wind turbines well within 7 to 10 years. It also renders most of theses wind farms uneconomic. From the accounts pulled from the companies office it is likely that many of these wind farms will never pay their debts.So the banks are likely to be writing off many millions of € per wind farm.Given that under EU law a cost benefit analysis should have been carried out prior to the commence of the wind program. Failure to hold the government to financial account given previous experiences with the property collapse. Leaves a deep stench in ones nostrils.

  2. Just to reiterate. Say wind capacity is 2,500 (mw) and maximum penetration is 50%.

    If demand is 5,000 (mww) and load factor is 100% then all wind capacity can be sold. Happy days.

    If demand is 3,000 (mw)wind load factor is still 100% only 1,500 mw can be sold. 1,000 mw must be curtailed. They can't break even due to low sales.

    If demand is 5,000 and load factor is 50% wind will be offered sales of 2,500 but can only supply 1,250 mw. The can't break even and make money.

    If government decides to overcome this by increasing wind capacity to 5,000 mw wind can only sell all its product if demand is 5,000 mw. I demand falls to 3,000 mw only 1,500 mw can be sold, leaving 3,500 mw unsold.

    If wind capacity is 5,000 mw and load factor is zero, wind capacity cannot generate and no money is made.

    It all adds up to a bottle neck in which the cake remains the same while the number seeking a slice increases. The only answer is increase bills on consumers and industry. Another proposal is to expost, but the EWIC is down since Storm Emma, in any event Neither France nor Britain will by above market price.

    The only matter remaining is whether anyone in government or in Banks have the intelligence to count this up. I doubt it. Up to 8 companies are insolvent as it is.

  3. I think I may have caught Eirgrid's Dashboard (Ireland) out faking it. It's now 8.07am. on the 23rd March, 2018. At about 7.55am (12 minutes ago), I checked the dashboard, It showed the normal demand for this morning and 2,000 mw of wind. Then wind took a sudden dip over about 3/4 inch of screen over about an hour down to 1,200 mw. A drop of 800 mw. I checked the frequency and it was all over the place. I then made a cup of tea and toast and went back into the Dashboard. It was down, no data at all since 8,07am. They say they are having trouble. Something happened to force 800 mw of wind generation curtailment. The are playing Russian Roulette with our electricity supply and hiding the details from prying eyes. The last 2 digits of my values were not remembered by me, but the first 2 were noted carefully, the green line just veered off at 45 degrees downwards from its previous path.

    I believe the trouble Eirgrid are having is that they are censoring information, they want us to see high wind penetration, but its not technically possible, so they are forced to severely curtail wind. They hide that from the public by shutting down the dashboard. Wind conditions did not change over the period, with quite strong wind blowing, but not gale force, definitely not enough to damage turbines. Meanwhile the EWIC is shown on the dashboard was still out of operation since the 28th February, 2018.

  4. Eirgrid believe in averages. Part of the State Religion. The Problem is that Eirgrid will average the whole country out of business. By initiating a country wide blackout. A gas stove and canned food will come in useful.