Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Rossport Five

More on the weekend in Ireland. The big local fuss in Co. Mayo at the moment is the Rossport Five who are protesting about a Shell gas pipeline a few miles out of town.

I don't know all of the ins and outs of this project, but local support for them is patchy, and far from being anti-globlisers (yes, the Irish SWP have arrived to sell their papers), there is a bit of a NIMBY character to the protest.

The downside of this is that it's the same attitude that results in wind farms not being able to get planning permission anywhere. And if North West Mayo has one abundant resource, it's wind. The grounds for objection I heard were...

  • They interfere with TV signals
  • Noisy
  • Ugly
  • Roads not wide enough to carry the equipment needed to set them up
  • A general suspicion that they will damage the health of the people and the beauty of the area
As is so often the case, one reason to object trumps ten reasons to support a proposal. Having said that, my experience of watching campaigns in Ireland is that - as long as you don't make an enemy of the church - that people are open-minded and positive about change as long as it's put to them in the right way. And as long as you don't ask for support with a referendum.

If the virtues of wind farms are recounted and the heroic nature of the locals in saving the planet is rehearsed, I think they could get enough support.

If a few bob can be even be found for more 'regeneration' it would probably clinch it.

Things are possible in Ireland - things that would be a quagmire in the UK. If they can get smoking banned in Dublin pubs, they can certainly sell wind farms to the good people of Erris.

Perhaps they can find an way of showing that Wind Farms = more sex - it appears to be working for the smoking ban. I doubt if it would need much creative PR to make objections to wind-farms look like a rejection of civic virtue.

But where are the pressure groups and protesters making these points? Why aren't they out there making the case for wind farms and patiently dealing with objections? When will these bastards ever risk their precious popularity by protesting FOR well as against things?

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