Niall McMahon

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Debating the Right Things

2013-04-09

Letter published in The Irish Times.

Link out to The Irish Times.

Sir,

One certain thing is that wind will be a part of the future energy mix.

As a non-aligned but arguably partisan academic, the recent debates have both heartened and saddened me, almost in equal measure!

Wind energy is not an ideology or a political idea. It is a technology. Technical issues, e.g. effectiveness, safety, noise levels and so forth, are matters of fact. These are best settled by ensuring access to good information. When you look at the technical data, there's not all that much, technically, to debate. The debatable things include whether or not local people are happy to have wind turbines in the area; this is an important discussion and mostly about visual impact, community engagement and confidence that best practice will be followed.

I was pleased to see demonstrators at the Irish Wind Energy Association's annual conference last week; it's a very good thing to have the discussion. It was too bad, however, to observe that those outside apparently had some poor technical information! For me, this underlined the need to better inform the public and to encourage mature debate about one of our few indigenous energy sources. And my position? Well, I'm of course entirely in favour of appropriately deployed wind.

Yours, etc,

Niall McMahon