‘Transparency required on off-shore wind farm plans’ – McGreevy

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Monday, May 20th, 2013
First Flight, the company behind the proposed development of a massive wind farm off the east Down coast must state where it stands in relation to the threat its project poses to the local fishing and tourism an SDLP Councillor has warned.

SDLP Councillor Connaire McGreevy

And Councillor Connaire McGreevy, the leader of the SDLP group on Newry and Mourne Council has challenged the members of the Community Forum to be “more assertive” in challenging the business motives behind the First Flight operation. “While I have absolutely no reservations about the integrity of those chosen by First Flight to be members of their Forum, opponents of the project are entitled to ask just what criteria was used as the selection benchmark. “With the coming on stream of the new Local Government structures involving Down and Newry and Mourne Councils this is an issue that requires the strongest possible attention. As a combined community we cannot allow this wind farm project to develop momentum without it being subjected to impartial scrutiny. “The reality is that there will be very little in terms of direct economic benefits for the people living along the County Down coastline. The reverse is actually the case in the context of unprecedented damage to our core industries of tourism and fishing. The SDLP Councillor continued, “Certainly in terms of the wider Northern Ireland economy the bottom line is that the cash generated through these wind turbine monstrosities, and I make no apology for that description, will not end up in local hands. “It will end up being siphoned off to a complex web of companies that have absolutely no commitment to Northern Ireland PLC in the long term. Obviously there will be some relatively limited investment in the actual construction of the turbines and in relation to the small number of service related jobs. “But that is simply not worth causing irreparable damage to one of the most beautiful places on earth. Remember that within a decade or so of being placed off our coast these turbines will be starting to become obsolete eyesores. “The fact that up to 120 massive wind turbines could be sited just a couple of miles off the coastline of Down will have a potentially disastrous impact on an already seriously under pressure fishing industry,” he insisted. “A single Wind Turbine poses a significant navigational hazard. Multiply that by a factor of 120 and it is not hard to calculate the huge threat that will be posed to trawlers and their crews. It is impossible to quantify the environmental damage that will be caused to our fish stocks. McGreevy added, “I have gone on record in calling publicly for an open and honest debate on all of the issues surrounding the project. The fishing industry along with the tourism sector has to be at the centre of that debate. As a community we require clarity and transparency. “That cannot be achieved by the type of soft focus and carefully staged PR events to date that have been staged by First Flight.”
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