Plan of Attack
Sunday, September 7, 2014
County Groups Joined to take Legal Action against Government Corruption and the Destructive Energy Bill
Class Actions are not legal in Ireland but that is the sort of thing planned, nonetheless!
Yesterday, representatives of all the groups against pylons and wind farms met to decide a Month of Action. The most exciting agreement was to take a joined legal action against the Government’s Energy Policy in its entirety. Yes, that is all concerned individuals in the country and yes, that is probably everyone in Ireland. The action will be against the plan to lay or hang heavy cable the length and breadth of Ireland, fed by hundreds of massive inefficient wind farms, set to overshadow community after community. Until now, it was still open for debate as to whether developments should go ahead. Some people might still say ‘wind energy is good isn’t it, at least its not fossil fuels?’ It was every man for himself. Some looking to meet profits, Green Energy targets, investors' needs, developers, local councils, individual households, communities and organized groups, appeals to An Bord Pleanala, the National level Planning Office, and eventually the high court as well, to get a judicial review. If you were an individual going to the High Court to try and stop a wind farm next to your house, you had to have your special appeal ready – the unique flora and fauna, the protected species and habitat, an EPA and/or SP or whatever they are, to prove it! Until yesterday, each person was on their own, relying on their own funding, their own environmental survey, their own solicitor.
But, at once, in the table-by-table discussion at the meeting, the common denominator arose. Corruption. This is the one thing that can be said for each and every case. We have oceans of evidence for a claim that the national planning office is routinely granting permission to build wind farms against the guidance and ruling of its own officials, at local level. What happens is that local councils refuse the Wind Farms planning permission, having received hundreds of objections by residents. Then the developer, eg Gaeltech immediately appeal to the national planning office and are given the go ahead.
One person asked, who really has ‘the dirt’ to blow the whistle like that on the government? Another said, every one has at least one experience of how the system has shafted democracy, common sense and human decency. Thirty groups, possibly more, giving even spoken evidence would go a long way to exposing 1. the willful destruction of peoples’ homes, the environment and rights. 2. Even past interviews, on line, demonstrate how key politicians intend to export power, not merely 'do a necessary upgrade to the electricity grid' as they told the people. 3. New technology has not been explored and the wind farms they’re putting up are inefficient rejects, 10 years outdated. At first, an injunction could certainly be justified, stopping the further erection of windmills and pylons. The policy change, we will ask for, is the extension of the step back distance to ten times its current few metres. This is what distance a turbine must be from a house.
The government are relying on an old divide and conquer approach. If you go into local planning office, you will be told that planning applications for wind farms are ‘Confidential’. These should be public offices and papers. Pylons, even a hundred metres high do not seem to need permission at all. I was even told by an ESB (those who manage the grid) representative that they have ‘squatters rights’ on my garden. How low is that? If they don’t happen to have a line across your garden already, they can make a compulsory purchase of it. (Look on facebook for the inspired man here who made the end of his garden a fine art installation and charges €500 an hour to even talk to him).
So, suffice to say, it was a good meeting. We worked out how to turn the tables. Instead of people having to prove that life and places are valuable to people who don’t care about life and nature, now the orchestrators will individually have to prove that they are not corrupt. I think we all know how that kind of a case will go. So, everyone, don’t hold back. Ring www.transparency.ie, they are part of Transparency International – an uncompromising not-for-profit organization to whom you can give a name. For example, Phil Hogan and Pat Rabbitte who have masterminded the least environmentally sensitive plans for Ireland and made sure they happened. Transparency International will check out if they have been compromised by ‘vested interests’, bribes, affiliations and generally monitor the transparency of their behavior. By the time we get to court, there will be so much ammunition that these two and many more at every level will be cringing and resigning. One good example of how this works is John Connor who moved from An Bord Pleanala, National Planning Management, to a management position at Eirgrid, the incompetent authority over the 300 billion pylon/substation/wind/frack/oil exploration… you name it, we are in for it, if we don’t stop it, policy.
Also, the meeting brought up some great protest places – The Wind Energy AGM in Kilkenny next month. The Eirgrid talk, up in Dublin Castle, and generally raising awareness of the plans and corruption happening. The exciting win for the Save Kilkenny Campaign, which saw an injunction put on Kilkenny Council and Contractors to halt work on the CAS bridge, was demonstration of the New Paradigm winning against the old. The old is entrenched, compromised by inappropriate loyalties and greed. The New is now forming a system for achieving positive change. It is fluid, each person operating as an individual, doing what feels best for them. It might be writing letters, talking to the politicians/public/press. It might be direct action, like a picket line and protest, to frustrate the inexhorable brazen implementation of plans, unchecked. It could be exercising legal weight. It is the combination of these that actually worked quite quickly, someone pointed out today. What was it, 9 weeks? If it was just legal, it could have been years to raise funds and get it heard in court. If it was just protests, the tide of public support could have been turned away by bad press and manipulative strategies to undermine the efforts and ignore the content of the objections. If it had just been political, the few councilors with integrity would have been suspended and the rest batoned down the hatchs with these words ‘our hands are tied’. A fluid, committed group, working with integrity
So, join a group, local or national, officially request, of your local planning office, that you are notified of all planning applications for Wind Farms or any other Energy related applications. This means you don’t have to scour every daily paper to keep an eye on what they’re doing. They are obliged to let you know. Get one representative of your group to each council meeting, again to hear what is being planned. Also, send the names of developers, groups, institutions and individuals who you think might be working with an ulterior motive, to Transparency International. Basically, lets pool our skills and take heart, confidence and inspiration from a commonly-held goal: Save Ireland. The government can do better than make Ireland a power station for other countries.
Can I take this opportunity to invite you all to the World Wide Frack Down Party on the 9th October. This was John Lennon’s birthday and is my chancery birthday. Here in Kilkenny, we will again shine a light on appalling ideas, badly executed and suggest first that they should stop and second what we can do instead! That is, lets explore new technology. No grid, no turbines, just plausible power for all. As they used to say, in the Bionic Man, ‘We have the technology!’