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As we reported here and here, faced with growing opposition to onshore wind farms in the UK, Tory MPs are backing a plan to outsource the production of wind power to Ireland. Turbines will be built over there using British Government subsidies and the energy will be exported back to Britain using cables running under the sea to Wales. It’s the brainchild of American company Element Power who say “the Irish have a less reactionary attitude to onshore wind turbine developments than the British.”
It has just been announced that that slightly insulting claim is going to be tested because there’s going to be a public consultation. If the Irish public don’t like the idea that’ll be the end of it. Or will it? In Britain the public’s clear wishes sometimes get ignored – hence the phrase “Oswestry democracy” – a process in which the people of Oswestry have given a resounding “no” to building next to a hill fort and Shropshire Council is acting as if they’d said yes.
There are indications that the die is now cast in Ireland whatever the public says. Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte has just said “the views of local communities must be at the heart of the transition to renewable energy” – “at the heart of the transition”, note, not “at the heart of the decision”. It’s ironic that this is about to happen in Ireland to supply Britain’s energy needs just at the moment when the British have decided to step away from such things at home and Energy Minister Greg Barker has stated that the rush to develop on-shore wind farms is “over” as “They have turned public opinion against renewable energy” and “We put certain projects in the wrong place” and “We are very clear about the need to limit the impact on the countryside and landscape” and “future wind farms will be developed off-shore”.
Well, Ireland is certainly off-shore! How fortunate Britain has always treated the population of Ireland well else people might think we’re doing something duplicitous!
Let’s start with an archaeologist. Charles Mount took the opportunity of last week’s Day of Archaeology to provide an insight into the state of Irish Archaeology in a contribution titled “Picking up the pieces”. He says the end of the Celtic Tiger boom has meant that
“Irish archaeology has been blighted by economic failure, imposed austerity and the failure of the commercial archaeology model. Those of us who are left are trying to pick up the pieces, but the loss of collective knowledge and experience will never be made good. Many excavation archives generated during the boom years now sit in store rooms with no one now to write them up and bring them to publication”. Data from many sites “may never see the light of day”.
And now the politician. Mr Mount’s account reminded us of our article in June 2009 about Mr. John Gormley, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. He was once the author of The Green Guide For Ireland but was also the man who presided over the building of the M3 at Tara and who refused to prevent the destruction of the newly discovered National Monument at Lismullin. When launching three Codes of Archaeological Practice he made this amazing false claim that seems to underly a lot of government posturing on both sides of the sea:
“development and conservation can go hand in hand”.
He never explained how, and no wonder. Anyway, he is out of politics now and archaeologists like Mr Mount have been left with the reality and to pick up the pieces.
Two men have pleaded guilty to criminal damage following a party at the Grianan of Aileach ring fort in County Donegal.
The court was told that the fort, which is normally kept so well, had been desecrated, stone walls had been defaced, cans, bottles and underwear were lying everywhere, while someone had even defectated at the entrance and also into the nearby holy well. The two defendants had been seen removing stones from the fort wall and throwing them 20ft down close to the entrance.
Judge Kelly said he had visited the fort itself which had survived 3,000 years and several wars and invasions and was disgusted that it was to be damaged by “loutish, ignorant and thuggish behaviour”.
Britain’s requirement for green energy is to be met by the erection of 2,500 giant wind turbines in clusters of 50 across the Midlands. They’ll each be much higher than Blackpool Tower and, thanks to special government rules, they can all be built less than a third of a mile from any house. Protestor Henry Fingleton said: “As we perceive it, the scale of the plan is so enormous that it will be the biggest transformation of the midlands counties since deforestation. It will ruin the landscape”. Nine community associations have banded together to demand “a more socially acceptable scale of wind-farm development“.
We should perhaps point out though it won’t happen in the Midlands of England but of Ireland – although the power will go to Britain and in fact it’s a British idea, fuelled by subsidies from the British government. Here’s the plan: “UK to outflank objectors with wind farms in Ireland: Faced with fervent and growing opposition to onshore wind farms in the UK, Tory MPs are backing a plan to site those facilities in Ireland – and then export the renewable energy generated back to Britain using cables running under the Irish Sea, to Wales”.
So it looks very similar to buying cheap trainers from Asia produced in a way that wouldn’t be acceptable over here.
A guest post by Philip I. Powell. First published at
http://www.facebook.com/megalithicmonuments.ireland, reproduced with permission.
TOORMORE WEDGE TOMB
RMP No. CO148-001
A colleague, on a recent visit to a wedge tomb in west Cork, was shocked to find it being used as an out-house, containing trash bins, old rubbish and strewn with litter. I find this totally unacceptable, to see such callous disregard for a national monument and deeply concerned about what we really think about our national heritage. Is it that, unless it is given national attention via the state & independent media networks, we actually don’t care! Or are we saying that certain monuments deserve protection and others are perhaps not worthy of such protection.
All recorded archaeological monuments are protected under the National Monuments Acts 1930-2004 and this applies to every single one of them and not just the high profile monuments such as Newgrange, Poulnabrone, the Hill of Tara and many, many others. It is for that reason that each monument is entered in the Record of Monuments and Places (RMP) as established under Section 12 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994. A unique identifying number is assigned to each monument and place in the record and, as such, gives it legal, statutory protection. When the owner or occupier of a property, proposes to carry out, or to cause, or to permit the carrying out of any work at or in relation to a Recorded Monument, they are required to give notice in writing to the Minister 2 months before commencing that work. This is to facilitate the NMS (National Monuments Service) time consider the proposed works and how best to protect the monument in question. Breach of these requirements is an offence. It is also an offence under the National Monuments Acts to dig or excavate anywhere near such monuments without a licence.
It should be a personal privilege to have any such monument on your property and not some sort of burden and yet some regard it as an inconvenience, which infringes on their lives. I, for one, would love nothing more than to have that privilege or as some may see it, that inconvenience. Our heritage and our national monuments are not just for the here and now. They and it are for the generations that follow us, not just on our island but for the whole world. This island of ours is one of the richest places on earth for prehistoric archaeology and is regarded by eminent archaeologists worldwide, as a haven for the study of the development of human society from the early Neolithic period to the late Iron Age and beyond.
The NMS is reliant on landowners and the general public, to help it fulfill its role in the protection and preservation of our national monuments & our archaeological heritage.
If you wish to report possible damage to a monument please contact the National Monuments Service by phoning 01 8882000 or e-mailing email@example.com as soon as possible. Thank you folks.
We recently highlighted differing expert views on how to resolve the conflicting needs for wind energy and conservation. Two favoured balancing the issues on a case-by-case basis and being guided by precedents – which seems pretty rational. But a third was more wind-industry aligned and thought offering effective “bribes” in the form of cheap electricity to local people is the way to go – which it surely isn’t, as conservation would never get a fair hearing. Now the wind farm lobby has come up with an even dodgier plan:
“Ministers are investigating a proposal to outsource the production of wind power to Ireland. Faced with fervent and growing opposition to onshore wind farms in the UK, Tory MPs are backing a plan to site those facilities in Ireland – and then export the renewable energy generated back to Britain using cables running under the Irish Sea, to Wales.” 700 turbines would be built using British Government subsidies on The Bog of Allen, an archaeological and natural treasure described by one Irish public body as “as much a part of Irish natural heritage as the Book of Kells”.
Is that troubling? Dumping the downside onto the Irish but enjoying the benefits ourselves? Should we pay the Irish to store our nuclear waste too?! The scheme is the brainchild of American company Element Power who say “the Irish have a less reactionary attitude to onshore wind turbine developments than the British.” Do they? Or is it that the Irish government is known to have a conveniently uncaring attitude towards heritage conservation?
> “Today I spent a few hours at the crannog in Enniskillen and it is a wonderful site, full of our history and precious archaeology”
> “That is why I instructed that a no-go zone be created around the site, with a ban on any construction traffic passing near or close to the crannog to protect the asset.”
> “As one of the very few to be excavated, I wish to deploy appropriate resources to fully excavate and record this gem of archaeology.”
> “If the crannog cannot now be saved, I will work to have a maximum excavation and record strategy going forward.”
> “I will appoint an independent person or persons to review the full story of this site, including how the current situation developed.”
> “Indeed, with major road developments in the pipeline, how known and unknown heritage sites are protected is an issue that I will be robustly interrogating.”
UPDATE: We have been asked to provide background information on this. We can do no better than provide a link to the blog of archaeologist Robert Chapple. The contrast between the Minister’s positivity and Mr Chapple’s account – including of the unacceptable time limits placed upon the excavation – is very striking. He even writes:
“It is also with great sadness that I learned today that the site crew had been interrogated in an attempt to discover who had the temerity to speak to me for this blog. One brave individual spoke up and admitted that they had provided the excellent photographs that I posted in yesterday’s update. By this evening they had been dismissed from their position without notice.”
Perhaps the Minister could extend his own enthusiasm for robust investigation to include this matter, as a matter of urgency?
Jeremy Deller’s much admired Bouncy Stonehenge, currently in Glasgow and shortly to be in London, wasn’t the first of its type. See here - The Poulnabrone Bouncy Dolmen , a touring public artwork by Jim Ricks launched in August 2010.
“I consider it an identical concept,” Ricks told the Guardian. “In terms of the description of the work, they are incredibly similar,” admitted Deller but he said that the idea for a bouncy Stonehenge had long pre-dated Ricks’s Dolmen. “The Olympics people got really nervous in case Jim decided to sue us,” he added. Fortunately though Ricks isn’t minded to – “Jeremy is a lovely man, and I have no reason to doubt his story” he said.
So cordial are their relations that it seems likely they’ll stage something that you won’t see every day – a megalithic bounce-off! Deller hopes that his “Sacrilege” will travel to Northern Ireland as part of its Cultural Olympiad tour. If it does, he will invite Jim Ricks to bring his Poulnabrone Bouncy Dolmen over the border to visit. (Rumours that Elvis and Lord Lucan will be present are yet to be confirmed!)
THE Irish Government is going to Europe to argue the case for turfcutters rather than heritage on a protected bog.
Moanveanlagh Bog is among a handful of remaining Special Area of Conservation (SAC) raised bogs nationwide on which the Government has hit a wall in trying to come to a resolution with turfcutters. They have been offered new plots, but they say they are too far away and too split-up as to be considered seriously.
Now the government is going back to Europe to see “if there is any flexibility on Moanveanlagh and other problematic bogs that remain” (“Flexibility” as in…. “a way the heritage can be destroyed”?)
In an amazing statement the Minister for Arts and Heritage confessed:
“My sympathies are first and foremost with the turfcutters, including members of my own extended family* on Moanveanlagh. Part of me wishes that the portfolio had been kept to arts, sports and tourism, but that wasn’t the case and I have to accept responsibility on behalf of the Irish State on this issue.”