The talks have been proposed by the ESB in an effort to break a two-year impasse over the construction of a 38kV line in the Bantry area.

To date, the wind farm developer and the landowners have not been involved in direct talks.

A Bantry action group, under chairman Joe Burke, has emphasised landowners are not opposed to the wind farm.

Their primary concern is the potential health risks associated with high voltage overhead lines. Local farmers have said they are prepared to allow the cable to be laid underground.

Mr Burke said yesterday that the local campaign was gathering momentum with national farm bodies, the ICSA and the ICSMA prepared to offer support. Hill-walking groups are also backing the landowners.


“As landowners, we are taking a stand for every farmer in the country,” Mr Burke said.

“Our property is private and it’s about time that someone called a halt to big commercial concerns using the ESB as an ally to railroad their way through private land.”

Mr Burke said his group would be prepared to enter into talks with the developer and the ESB.

Last month, An Bord Pleanála turned down an appeal from the action group in relation to the ESB Networks’ application to construct a cable to the proposed Glanta Commons wind farm at Dromourneen, to link up with an 110kV station in Ballylickey.

West Cork TD Denis O’Donovan said yesterday that negotiation, and not confrontation, was the way forward.

“I have been assured by the ESB that they are prepared to enter talks with all parties to bring an end to the dispute. ESB Networks have been given the go-ahead by both the county council and Bord Pleanála to construct the cable but they are anxious to alleviate farmers’ concerns,” he said.

Mr O’Donovan said landowners could go to the courts and seek a judicial review but the cost would be astronomical.

“The best way forward for all concerned is to get around the table and talk, there’s nothing to lose through consultation.”

The Fianna Fáil TD, who is a member of the joint Oireachtas committee on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources said senior ESB officials were anxious to reduce any adverse effect on farmers of constructing overhead lines.

“At this stage, no one in ESB is in a position to give a commitment on local demands for underground cables to be laid but I believe the impact of overhead cables can be minimised,” he added.
 
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UK renewables: whistling into the wind
Ernst & Young has cited the UK as the world's most attractive wind power market.

2 Feb 2005, 17:41 GMT - The main UK electricity suppliers do not have the plans in place to match either the potential of the UK renewables market or its regulations under the Renewables Obligation. Electricity suppliers need to dramatically scale up their plans if this market opportunity is not to be taken by someone else.
Ernst & Young's latest report on the renewables sector cites the UK as the most attractive market in the world. The low installed base of wind power in the UK and the Renewables Obligation (RO) are the main pillars of support for this assessment, giving the UK an index of 70 out of 100.

The UK has massive untapped potential in the wind power sector and there are several reasons why this has yet to be realized. Issues around market design have caused problems and obtaining planning consent has never been easy, for example. However, huge increases in the wholesale cost of gray energy seen throughout 2004 mean that the economics of wind power have never looked so good.

Perhaps the single biggest reason that wind power's potential remains unfulfilled is the genuine disinterest shown towards it from the major UK electricity companies. The RO requires UK electricity suppliers to buy a certain proportion of their electricity portfolios from renewable sources. This proportion increases each year and will rise from 5.5% in 2005/6 to 10.4% in 2010/11. Companies that don't manage to source this much renewable power in their portfolios will have to buy Renewable Obligations Certificates (ROCs), and those that exceed it will be able to sell them.

The main UK electricity suppliers as a group are not even close to hitting RO targets from their own sources and their current plans for capacity development show them falling further behind. In 2005/6 only one company, Scottish & Southern Energy, will be in a long position for ROCs, and all the others will be short. Datamonitor calculates that as a group the six largest electricity suppliers in the UK will be 11,652GWh short in 2005/6, exposing them to a maximum ROC liability of GBP376 million. If the suppliers proceed with only their current plans this would rise to 20,969GWh and GBP678 million, respectively.

While some of this renewable power will be sourced from independent renewable energy operators, the current plans of the main suppliers in the UK are not in keeping with the economic realities of the situation and clearly do not match the potential of the market. The opportunity exists to fill the gap and the major players need to develop plans to do so before someone else does it first.
 
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 Leading Tory puts wind up fellow MSPs

A TOP Tory today suggested that wind turbines should be erected on the new £431 million Scottish Parliament building.

Conservative enterprise and lifelong learning spokesman Murdo Fraser also lodged a tongue-in-cheek motion at Holyrood calling for fellow MSPs to "welcome" a proposal for a wind farm to be built on the nearby Salisbury Crags.

The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, who has previously fought wind farms in Perthshire, claimed the Labour-dominated Executive was using rural areas as a dumping ground for the technology.

"I doubt that this proposal for Salisbury Crags is intended to be taken entirely seriously, but it does raise some interesting issues," he said. "There is no doubt that it makes sense to generate power as close as possible to where it is consumed."

Mr Fraser added: "I can think of no finer site for a wind turbine than the roof of the Holyrood building; one of the ugliest buildings in Edinburgh. Far better there than on an unspoilt Perthshire hill."

Scottish Renewables, which represents dozens of wind farm companies, claimed this week the Crags scheme was a hoax.

The group said David Kennedy, the man behind the development, was a leading figure in the anti-wind farm campaign. But Mr Kennedy has insisted the planning application for the Crags was legitimate.