Concerned members of the Irish thoroughbred industry today launched a campaign to warn of the risks posed by proposed large-scale windfarms in the Midlands, the long-standing home to a critical concentration of Ireland’s world class thoroughbred industry.
The campaign is supported by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, the Irish Jockeys Association, the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association and the Association of Irish Racehorse Owners as well as by leading figures associated with the thoroughbred breeding and racing communities.
Joe Osborne, Managing Director, Kildangan Stud said: “Our concerns are the safety of the thoroughbred horses and those working with them and the protection of a critical industry cluster which attracts foreign investment and supports rural jobs. We want to ensure the concerns of thoroughbred owners, breeders and trainers are reflected in the decisions taken, and that renewable energy sources are pursued that do not place this established rural industry under threat.”
The campaign will undertake awareness-raising activities among the thoroughbred industry and its supporters; participate in the relevant planning processes and consultations; and engage with elected officials at national and local level. The campaign submission to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources as part of Stage 1 of the public consultation on Renewable Energy Export Framework highlighted the value of the industry, which was worth nearly €1.1 billion to the Irish economy in 2012 and directly employs 14,000 full time equivalents and many more in ancillary services. In addition to its economic contribution, the thoroughbred horse is part of the character of the Irish countryside and forms part of Ireland’s reputation among many foreign investors and visitors.
Champion National Hunt Jockey Ruby Walsh is among supporters of the campaign, commenting that: “I have been a professional jockey for fifteen years. I am certain that it would be dangerous to ride thoroughbreds within sight or earshot of a rotating wind turbine. I am not opposed to progress and understand the need for renewable energy; however the thoroughbred industry is a huge source of rural employment in Ireland. The moving shadows on sunny days created by wind turbines is a massive problem for horses. The riding or even grazing of horses in such areas is simply not possible and extremely dangerous.”