Wind power and Broughderg: backs against the wall

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 09.01.40

Picture by Irishman47

It’s sometimes irritating the way the world tends to offer up contradictory visions. Take for example wind power. On the fact of it, wind power is a Good Thing. It harks back to the simpler days of windmills. It harnesses natural energy and involves, one would think, zero carbon emissions. And some of those wind turbine farms can look…awe-inspirting. Future-world-ish. Striking.

The catch comes when the question “Where?” is raised. Would you like a wind turbine farm at the end of your street? On the mountain behind your house? In a scenic coastal area? Another catch comes in the fact that providing wind power can be a lucrative business, given that governments, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes because they want to look good, are happy to subsidise wind power development.

Let’s look at our local situation. The DUP, despite the fact that Sammy Wilson is a climate-change denier, is in favour of developing wind power. Or it would appear so, judging by the energy displayed by DUP man Jonathan Bell. Somewhere in the mix there too, it’s alleged, is one Gareth Robinson, close relative of former First Minister Peter Robinson.


Which brings us to Broughderg. This is a rural area in Co Tyrone, a few miles from Draperstown, Co Derry. People have been living there, it’s believed, for over 7,000 years. Put simply, the wind energy industry has designs on putting in place a wind farm that would generate energy for decades. This would also help to line the pockets, I’m told, of foreign investors behind the project. A number of large landowners, many of whom are absentee, also appear to favour the scheme. The local people, as embodied in the Broughderg Area Development Association, are opposed. They believe it will damage a place of great natural beauty, they worry about health issues, they are faced with the fact that the designated area will be sterile as far as planning applications are concerned. In short, the wind energy project in Broughderg is dividing the people of that area.

It gets murkier the more you delve. I’m told that the by-now-overly-well-known firm of Tughans is working with those planning to build wind turbines. If the scheme is implemented, it will result in the depopulation of the area, already a problem. It’ll also put the boot into efforts to generate tourism in an area that has great potential in that respect.

But aren’t these green people who are proposing the installation of wind turbines – green in terms of energy? Doing us all a favour? Indeed. As one resident put it, this is a big commercial wolf masquerading as an ecological lamb.

Few people would dispute the need for green energy. But as we saw with the rejection of a huge incinerator near Mallusk yesterday, such moves can have a crippling effect on local communities. In fact there are similarities between some alternative energy schemes and Orange marches. Both would claim to be engaged in innocent/beneficial activities; but both want to go, are doing their damnedest to see that they do go, where the local community heartily wish they wouldn’t. In the end, like so much else, it’s a battle between outsiders and big money, and local people whose voices get drowned out. Public apathy or public support will help decide who wins in Broughderg.




14 Responses to Wind power and Broughderg: backs against the wall

  1. neill September 25, 2015 at 8:18 am #

    Only you could bring in orange marches into a blog about the environment and business are you obsessed?

    Do you want “green” electricity or not?

    • Ryan September 25, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

      Maybe we could have “Orange” electricity Neill. With all that marching the Orange/Loyal orders do all year round we could channel the energy and convert it into electricity. Yes, that’s the answer to Norn Irons energy needs! Free electricity for all!*

      *except for homosexuals, pesky fenians, etc.

      • neill September 26, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

        What is a “pesky fenian”?

  2. Sherdy September 25, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    The theory of wind power sounds good until you look into the detail.
    These windmills only work part-time. If there is no wind they do not work. If there is too much wind they do not work. So all this money and the accompanying eyesore is not a viable subject without subsidy, which means it is not viable – full stop.
    Solution – throw the lot into the sea!
    Tidal generators are more viable as the tide comes in and out twice every day, meaning there is a constant flow of billions of gallons of water, constantly producing energy, summer and winter.
    This equipment need not even be placed anywhere near our scenic beaches as there are many miles of coast inaccessible to the normal tourist or bather.
    It is also almost totally submerged so there is negligible negative visual impact.
    The technology is more complicated than windmills, but surely there are ingenious engineers who could overcome these problems, such as those in Volkswagen who have been able to technologically fool the pollution experts of the world’s governments for about 30 years.

    • Ryan September 25, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

      Can see the merits of Tidal power Sherdy but I think the future is either in Geothermal power or Nuclear Fusion (which doesn’t leave behind the extremely dangerous toxic/radio active waste that Nuclear Fission leaves and its energy source is basically limitless).

  3. John Patton September 25, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    I wondered when the marchers might arrive in this thoughtful piece. Perhaps, Jude , you have accidentally produced a solution to a continuing problem. Hold the marches once or, at most, twice a year in the wide open spaces where all could enjoy the fresh air without inconveniencing neighbourhoods or arousing the ire of those who do not share their enthusiasm for celebration of bigoted orangery.

    Location of wind and wave farms is a controversial issue here in Scotland too. I live in the lee of the beautiful Ochils and the landscape has been blighted by several clusters of turbines. The same suspicions of foreign investment with the connivance of absentee landlords surface also.

    • jessica September 26, 2015 at 5:42 am #

      With over 2000 marches per year, pity there wasn’t solar sashes and bowler hats we could hook them up to.

      Or what about a giant power generating treadmill with a photo of garvaghy road at the top. They could power the whole country.

      If they could generate power from flags then we’d really be onto something.

  4. paddykool September 25, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    I thought it was a wee bit absurd not to allow an incinerator at Mullusk {yesterday in the news} , Jude..When you consider they allow huge mountains of pallets to be burnt all over the place without a thought about the environment, the effect on health and all the rest of it…….weird or what?

  5. Séamus Ó Néill September 25, 2015 at 11:53 am #

    Despite wind turbines utilizing wind power ,its production of power is very far from green.To build a turbine a massive carbon footprint is left behind… 241.85 tons of CO2 .The power generated is intermittent and basically unreliable so power stations have to remain on standby for when the wind stops blowing.The potential damage from incessant low frequency noise has not been properly assessed but a study in Australia has confirmed that if the blades are not properly aligned the frequencies cause severe headaches and chest pains….in this part of the world we are acutely aware of the damage resulting from white noise ,a noise comprising of low frequency from 20hz to high frequency 20khz. I as much as anyone want green energy but foisting something on the public without the relevant health related studies is madness

  6. Perkin Warbeck September 25, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    Broughderg / Red Bank is not just an interesting nameplace for the place it names, Esteemed Blogmeister, but could well have served as a dinky sobriquet for the south side of the Black Sow’s Dyke in recent times.

    After all, the Free Southern Stateen was the go-to place, was it not, for, erm, Banks in the Red. And indeed, may well still be. Hopefully, it will not prove all too apt a nickname as well as name for that rural parish in County Tyrone, now that the Orange fraternity has gone green.

    Down here in DOBland, meanwhile, this very morning we were treated to a particularly interesting edition of Wireless Weathercock. That would be, of course, Yawning Ireland on RTE Radio 1 which is the must sniff to programme to find out in which direction the prevailing winds of political change are blowing.

    In the run up to the 8.30 news breakwind the lucky listeners were given a rare earful of (gasp) The Woodman in apologetic mode. Imagine! Happened when he was interviewing Alan Shatter, TD on a profoundly disturbing topic from the A-list of Z-topics.

    And when Cathal Mac Coille (for it was he !) attempted (unsuccessfully) to (apologetically) intervene in a long, lugubrious lament from his grieving guest he was smartly told to desist. And desist the preternaturally irresistible Woodman did, not with a bang but with a simpering whimper. A-mazing, truly.

    But, of course, this only serves to emphasise the deeply distressing topic du jour. That would be the fascistic flourish with which this debt-enveloped developer, the Johnny Ronan creature suffixed his billet doux to NAMA:

    -Arbeit macht frei !

    With his holocaust in his arms, Alan Shatter, MP, took grave exception to this, Personally, like. And to rub the old saxa in the wound the leprechaun version was added:

    -Tugann saothar saoirse !

    That was the real Jerry Lee Luas, aka, the Killer. For it is an article of fate that even a cursory gander at the leprechaun language lobby in the FSS reveals it to be a goosestepping battalion of nationalists / Nazi’s.

    So, what was the bilious billionaire (former) up to? Not hitherto known as a leprechaun lover, considering this erstwhile party-throwers favourite guest list of party throwers-up, (all those Montrachet bottles at 150 a bottles, don’t you know)

    From Eamonn Dunphy (the super Dub whose mantra is ‘I hate the Dubs !’) and (Sir) Michael Colgan who cunningly prefers to keep his title in inverted commas lest his promotion of English-language plays to the complete exclusion of drama in leprechaun might affect his wheelbarrows of moolah from the bilingual taxpayers’ dosh-heap.

    Call the latter: MonoglotGate.

    Or, could it be – gasp ! – a coded claim of sorts on the rising movie starlet, Saoirse Ronan ? ! (btw, Johnny is the Ronan in a pony tale, not Saoirse).

    But that, of course, is but a frolicsome sideshow,

    As always, sans exception, it is An Madra nach rinne Tafann/ The Dog which did not Bark what is not the least interesting facet of Yawning Ireland. A recent example was the absence of the Woodman’s Whack when it came to quizzing Hi, Noonan ! about his deliberate snub with regard to inviting – clothes peg on the nose time ! – the Deputy First Minister to discuss the NAMA drama in Norneverland.

    In the case of the anguished and Anglicised Alan Shatter / Alan O Smidiriini, MP one must go back to September 29, 2013. That was the day 100 brogue-accented members of (gulp) Oglaigh na hEireann (to be confused with the Standing Army of the FSS) put their brogues on the ground of the Israeli -occupied Golan Heights. As UN peacekeepers, seemingly.

    At the time the Minister of Defence whose duty it was to sign off on this overseas jaunt was (gasp) one Alan Shatter, MP. (Irish Minister, that is, not the Israeli one).

    Cue, the non-barking German Shepherd.

    And if this item prior to the 8.30 News was to do with WW2, then what was to follow after the breakwind was if even richer in J. Cash flow, Involving as it did ‘more kicking and gouging in the mud and the blood and the tear’.

    That second topic du jour being, ar ndoigh,/ of course (gulp ) WW !

    And so reverential was the tone in this second item that it made even The Woodman of today sound like his normal self.

    Red, indeed, ran the banks of Yawning Ireland this morning.

  7. Ryan September 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    I believe that climate change is happening but do I believe humans are behind it? No and I got very concerned when I was reading this blog when I learnt that I may share the same view as the DUP’s Sammy Wilson. Ah well, even though I’m sure I disagree with 95% of Sammy’s other views, I guess we can agree on something.

    Climate change is spoke about as if its something “abnormal” or “wrong”. Reality is Earth’s atmosphere has changed many, many times over its history. For example I think there has been over 10 separate Ice Ages, humans have only lived through one so far and scientists predict another one in a few thousand years time. During the time of the Dinosaurs (which lasted over 100 million years) the average worldwide temperature was around 45 degrees, today its 15 degrees. A big difference. The whole Earth at one point was a massive snowball, the Sun’s rays got reflected back out into space, it was due to volcanic activity that the snow/ice melted. If there was no geological activity on Earth then Earth would’ve been doomed to an eternal ice age. see, Earths atmosphere constantly changes and it will continue to change regardless of human activity.

    If there is any one thing that influences the Earths climate It isn’t the tiny activities of humans. I don’t know if anyone has considered that big shining ball of Plasma in the Sky that we call “The Sun” having an effect on our climate? If there is anything pushing Earths climate to change its our nearest Star, its 1000 times bigger than the planet Jupiter. You could fit 1,000,000 Earths inside the Sun. Stop focusing on green technology (that wont change anything) and start pumping the billions into researching the Sun and new technology that manipulates weather.

    Just like in Oil, many powerful people have investments in green technology, so don’t expect an end to blaming humans on climate change any time soon. Just like in Broughderg and many other places in the World, people will have to fight to keep beauty spots free from wind mills and other eye sores and in most cases they will lose their fight because the bank balances of the powerful- sorry I meant saving the Earth and tackling climate change is more important….

  8. Belfastdan September 25, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    As you have said Jude it is other interests rather than the interests of the local community that will benefit from the establishment of windfarms.

    These things are visual pollution! From a practical sense they are inefficient at producing energy, cannot be used in high winds and are prone to spectacular failure as demonstrated in Tyrone in January of this year.

    They are not exactly green either as the rare earth metals in their turbines are mined (not the greenest of industries) shipped from China which has a near monopoly on this metal, and the carbon fibre that the structure is made from cannot be recycled.

    Given that these plants (I think farm is a deliberate misnomer) will not produce few local jobs and may even cost jobs in tourism it would be a disaster if these developments were encouraged.

    We do not even have enough information on the effects of wind turbines on wildlife, and birdlife in particular to allow more of these eyesores to proliferate.

    The people behind these projects are only interested in one type of green and that is the good old greenback.

  9. billy September 25, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

    these greens would have us living in budgie cages if they got their way,wind farms,no plastic begs,no hare coursing,no smoking in the pub,recycle,ect, ect,people voting these bunny huggers are as bad.

  10. Greertoronna September 25, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    You raise such an important point today. In our enthusiasm for the creation of a clean, green, low-carbon economy, we can unwittingly unleash more harm. Business people are opportunists and no doubt see the tantalizing prospect of great profits in the economic transition about to unfold. The challenge is there for the rest of us to come up with imaginative and innovative structures for community control of new energy, creating good, well paid work and keeping the wealth local. And if you wouldn’t tolerate in your backyard what is to be built, then it shouldn’t be built in anyone’s backyard.