Binging Britain: Who is really suffering?

What constitutes binge drinking, how you can tell if you are binge drinking and where you can go for help. Check this out – you may be in for a bit of a surprise! – Sasha Wylie reports

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• What is binge drinking?

• How is binge drinking different to drinking normally?

• The effects of binge drinking

It’s a potentially fatal consequence of Britain’s binge drinking culture that has so far gone largely unrecognised. Young people in some cases consuming up to 5 litres of alcohol per day, ending up in hospital with liver failure.

What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking usually refers to drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk.

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Researchers define binge drinking as consuming eight or more units in a single session for men and six or more for women.

How is binge drinking different to drinking normally?

Two large glasses of wine may not seem like very much. But drinking six units of alcohol in a short space of time will raise your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and could make you drunk very quickly. Drinking the same amount over several hours, and accompanied by food for example, will not have the same effect on your BAC.

http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/alcohol/pages/bingedrinking.aspx

The effects of binge drinking

Some studies show that drinking a large amount of alcohol over a short period of time may be significantly worse for your health than frequently drinking small quantities.

Getting very drunk can affect your physical and mental health:

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•Accidents and falls are common because being drunk affects your balance and co-ordination. You’re also more likely to suffer head, hand and facial injuries. Binge drinking has also been linked to self-harm .

•In extreme cases, you could die. Overdosing on alcohol can stop you breathing or stop your heart, or you could choke on your vomit.

•Nearly a third (29%) of alcohol related deaths are a result of alcohol related accidents. These deaths are more common among 16–34-year-olds.

•Binge drinking can affect your mood and your memory and in the longer term can lead to serious mental health problems.

One of the main effects of binge drinking is what effect it has on the ambulance service and the NHS.  Waiting time breaches reached record highs, emergency admissions soared, thousands of patients faced long waits on trolleys and there are talks of the NHS collapsing.

Yet alcohol and binge drinking costs the NHS around £2 billion each year according got the department of health. Out of this, most of these costs are borne by the front-line and mainstream NHS. Hospital services (inpatient and outpatient) account for 56% of the total. Ambulance services and accident emergency services, taken together, bear almost a third of these estimated costs, while hospital services account for over a half of the total.

Local Ambulance service-man Patrick Riely, commented on the affects he has seen being on the frontline dealing with binge drinkers:

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“The first thing most of them do as we leave the scene is vomit. That then renders the ambulance off the road for an hour once that call has been finished because it has to be deep cleaned because of infection and so on.”

“Then you will get the ones where the ambulance crews have been assaulted…We have had cases of paramedics being sliced with knives, punched, kicked, ambulances being nicked just as a prank through somebody being drunk and driving it into a row of cars.”

The Police are another frontline service having to deal with the problem of binge drinking and alcohol related arrests. Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has urged reform of the licensing system, suggesting the number of bars and pubs in the country be reduced in order to stem the rising tide of alcohol related violence.

Police now have a growing concern about the number of underage drinkers and those who are now drinking on the street.

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Dozens of bottles of beer, cider and spirits were taken from young people in Portrush and Portstewart. The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s north coast team posted a photograph of the haul on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

They appealed to parents to be aware of the problem of underage drinking:

“Constables Burns and Coyle are pictured with drink seized from under 18s in the Ports on Easter Monday. Too much alcohol impairs judgement and is risky for young people who mightn’t know their limits. The young people didn’t realise it at the time, but police seizing the drink probably saved them from alot of bother. Please also remember it’s an offence to buy drink for under 18s. Police will seize drink all summer long if we need to”.

https://www.facebook.com/PSNI.NorthCoast?fref=ts

Doctor McKay commented on the affects he has seen because of binge drinking. Listen here 

He called for a change in attitudes to drinking.

He said: “The role of the NHS should not just be about treating the consequences of alcohol relatedharm but also about active prevention, early intervention, and working in partnership with services in local communities to raise awareness of alcohol-related harm.”

If you have been affected by anything in this article visit  https://www.drinkaware.co.uk for the facts.

Related articles can be found here and here

 

 

 

The Criminal effects of Alcohol

As a society, most of us enjoy sipping over a few drinks with friends or to unwind, but what happens when your drinking gets out of control, leading to Court Orders and Probation? – Sasha Wylie reports.Cardiff: Police arrest one reveller in the centre of the city in the early hoursProbation Officer Lorraine Cullen has seen first hand what binge drinking and alcoholism can do and how it can destroy not only the persons life, but those around them.

So Lorraine, how many cases would you get that have been alcohol or binge drinking related?

The majority of cases within my caseload would be alcohol related and some would be alcohol and drug related. The majority of my clients would be aged between 18-24 year olds and the offences would normally happen at the weekend outside bars and nightclubs. The offences that they commit can stretch from murders, rape and resisting police and disorderly behaviour. However, in recent years there has also been an increase in older males in drink driving and a significant increase in domestic abuse in relation with alcohol. The number of females now coming through probation doors has increased and they would all be alcohol related.

How does this affect peoples lives?

Younger males will find that having a criminal record will have a long lasting impact on their life as it can sometimes stop them getting into education, work and immigration. The immigration problem at the moment appears to have the most impact on them. Older men suffer from losing their driving  license which affects their employability and sometimes results in them losing their jobs. This can have an impact upon their emotional well-being and can often result in them drinking more often than what they would have previously. The prospects of being before court and the impact of having their names printed in the newspapers can leave people overwhemled and reluctant to seek help, this is were probation provides support, not only to deal with their offending behaviour but to make them look at their alcohol consumption. Young women who drink to access are a particularly vulnerable group, often ending up in domestic abuse relationships, victims of rape and being sexually exploited.

Listen here as Lorraine tells of one case that she will always remember.

What help is out there for people suffering from this addiction? Their is a community addictions team, however this has to be referred through a general practitioner and people are often reluctant to access this service. There can be a six month waiting list prior to people being seen and for someone struggling with a chronic addiction, this can be too long to wait for help. There are in-paitent services, again this requires to be done through GPs and requires the person to be sober. Probation provides instant services and this is usually a requirement of their license conditions or Order. They can get one to one counselling from probation support workers or from a very valuable source, Breakthru.  People can self refer themselves to Breakthru and will receive  the support of highly trained councillors.

Breakthru Breakthru was established in 1995 by Dungannon Development Associaton as a result of what was seen as becoming two major issues in society: Alcohol and Drugs. However, they have also incorporated self-harm and suicide into work over the last few years. Spokeswoman Vicky Boyd stated that: “Breakthru’s mission is to be at the forefront of addressing substance misuse and risk-taking behaviours through the provision of effective education, information, support and interventions to young people and communities, and to support those engaging in risk-taking behaviours to address their problems and fulfill their human potential.”

Listen here to Bernie Devine, Manager of Breakthru in Dungannon, discussing the changes she has seen over the past years.

If you would like to give a donation to this organisation, please follow this link: https://www.paypal.com/uk/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=ffYt7iuxI737OrCtoE9HEPfC4QFBDWYDdccSrMcvp5-C7s0k84w2uq1L36e&dispatch=5885d80a13c0db1f8e263663d3faee8d96f000117187ac9edec8a65b311f447e 

Related articles can be viewed here and here

First Ever GAA World Games Take Place

The first ever Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) World Games took place in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

Twenty-five teams from across the globe gathered to compete in games of traditional Irish sports, including Gaelic football, hurling, camogie and rounders.

The competition, played over two days, started on Friday 6 March and ended with a day of semi-finals and finals on Saturday 7 March. The event was hosted by Abu Dhabi Na Fianna at the Zayed Sports City, which has hosted major sporting events, such as the Fifa Club World Cup.

Trevor Buckley, chairperson of Abu Dhabi Na Fianna said, “It reflects the globalisation of the games and is representative of the amount of Irish people worldwide who’ve had to emigrate for various reasons. The fact we’re trying to promote the games and keep everyone involved is very special to us and a great honour.”

He went on to say, “The response has been very positive, especially since it’s the first Games and a lot of teams have travelled huge distances to take part. That shows its appeal. And even though the numbers are quite large already, we hope they will continue to grow in the future.”

Erin Loughnana travelled from Toronto to represent Canada in the games. She said the diversity of the teams was clear when they were discussing the training preparation of the different teams. The Middle East team was accustomed to training in the desert climate of Abu Dhabi, while the Canadian national team held their preparation training indoors, due to the -3 degrees weather in Toronto.

The competition has been hailed as a forward step in the globalisation of Gaelic games with male and female athletes from North America, South America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mainland Europe, South Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Middle East all taking part. The World Games hopes to follow the path made by other international fixtures such as the International Rules Series between Ireland and Australia, and the All Stars game, played in Boston.

The winners of the tournament was dominated by the Middle East teams. The men’s finalists were the both of the Middle East’s entrants, with the seconds’ team coming out as the victors.

For more information on the GAA World Games follow the event on Facebook or Twitter.

50 Shades Of Grey Review

Valentine’s Day marked the release of the much anticipated 50 Shades of Grey, the film adaption of E.L. James’s erotic romance novel, which has sold over 100 million copies worldwide.

 Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey, a successful Billionaire businessman, with a need to control all things sexual and otherwise. Dornan has previously played the role of serial killer, Paul Spector in BBC drama The Fallwhich led him nicely into this equally complex and at times disturbing character of Mr Grey. The actor who has modelled for Armani is easy on the eyes and leaves the female population ready to trade places with Ana Steele. Dornan stars opposite Dakota Johnston, who has an air of awkwardness which actually makes for effective viewing and adds a sense of real and relate-ability to the character of Anastasia.

The sex scenes were eagerly anticipated, simply because so many wondered how far the movie would push the boundaries. For a majority of the time, they were a perfect balance of artistic insinuation and to the point shockers. However, one scene is an exception to the rule, and I found myself tense and uncomfortable, as the film explored the all too realistic theme of sadism. None the less, the scenes were shot with the view to outline the surface of lust motivation while also portraying underlying emotions which help link the sexual scenes to much a deeper storyline.

The people behind this movie had brilliantly used the large reading audience of this story to their advantage. They were aware that it would be pointless to try and hide any information and allow the movie plot to ‘unfold’, because unless you live under a rock you know what 50 Shades of Grey is about. Instead, they allowed Mr Grey to release hints in front of the unknowing Ana and this allowed the audience to be involved in the ‘inside joke’. Such as when Mr Grey goes to the Hardware store to buy cable ties, rope and duct tape.

At the risk of giving too much away I’ll stop before divulging any more information. All that I will say, is that coming out of the cinema most of the patrons were saying, “I wish I had a Mr Grey. Perhaps there really is something irresistible about a man with money, power and an air of self-assured confidence, and looking like Jamie Dornan helped too I suppose.

Binevenagh Wind Farm: The Story So Far

In 2010, the Northern Ireland Executive put forward a new strategy for a more eco-friendly Northern Ireland. As such, Renewable Energy International and Windy Fields Group developed a plan to erect 21 wind turbines at Binevenagh, County Londonderry, better known as Windy Hill.

Binevenagh is one of three locations in Northern Ireland that a wind farm is being developed on. These three sites are part of a larger nine that are under special protection as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It is because Binevenagh is recognised as an area of natural beauty and a popular tourist destination that the plans have been met with significant backlash.

The backlash came as a result of concerns that a large wind farm would spoil the natural beauty of the area; lengthy construction time and turbines a third the height of the cliffs themselves would cause “catastrophic and irreversible damage”, per Binevenagh SOS. Opposition to the proposed wind farm came in the form of protestors, a Facebook page with almost 3,000 likes, a website (Binevenagh SOS), and public opposition from branches of the Northern Ireland Tourism Board and the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency.

For more information on the links mentioned, check out the Binevenagh SOS website and the Binevenagh Facebook page.

Binevenagh Mountain

Amid all of the opposition to the proposal, Windy Fields and political figures have emerged and made statements in an attempt to stop concerns, or at least highlight the benefits the wind farm would provide. Furthermore, as a means of alleviating concerns over the supposed destruction of the landscape, Windy Fields reduced the number of turbines from 21 to 16. Windy Fields CEO Jeff Potter said, “We have gone to great lengths to reduce the visual impact of the wind farm, including the removal of five turbines and moving several others back from the escarpment.”

Windy Fields have argued that Northern Ireland absolutely needs to become a more eco-friendly country and the Binevenagh wind farm is the first step forward. Windy Hill, as it is known locally, is one of the windiest locations in all of Europe and, as such, is the perfect location for a wind farm. The benefits far outweigh the aesthetic drawbacks is the case put forward by Windy Fields and, with opposition having fallen to 10%, it seems like it is just a matter of time until the farm is erected, for better or worse.

 

The Positive

There are  a myriad of benefits to using wind farms as a source of renewable energy. From the low cost of production to the high output of power, wind farms are an increasingly viable option to the energy crisis facing the entire world. This is especially true considering just how windy the UK and Ireland is.

Windy Farms CEO Jeff Potter has shed some new light on the controversial Binevenagh Wind Farm project. The plans for a 21 turbine wind farm on the Northern coast have been in motion since 2010 but there still hasn’t been any ground broken. The plans have been reimagined and now there are only 16 turbines being erected but the backlash to the project has still not diminished. Potter talked about the project and explained where it’s at now.

“Yes, we are still moving along.” Said Potter. “The application has gone to the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) on an article 33 non-determination appeal, as the DOE planners were unlikely to decide either way.  The PAC is now waiting on our last environmental submission which we hope to send off in early March.” Windy Farms have submitted the last environmental report and, assuming there are no major hiccups, should receive a definitive yes or no by April or May.

Windy Fields Plans
Windy Fields Plans

So it seems likely that the project will indeed be breaking ground sometime in 2015, but there remains a vocal community of protestors, which Jeff Potter maintains are a minority. “A recent poll conducted by DECC that was released on 3 Feb 2015 showed support for onshore wind farms up to 68% of the public and total opposition down to 10%.” The 10% of total opposition seems surprising given the amount of support the anti-wind-farm Facebook page has and the Binevenagh SOS website, however it is possible that, over the past few years, the story has not been as prominent in media and public awareness of the project has dropped. Regardless of the reasoning Potter said, “This is encouraging, as it is impossible to satisfy all the people all the time.” While Potter’s words may be true, the people who oppose the wind farm are not looking for a compromise. “There is a certain percentage of the 10% of opponents who will never be satisfied and refuse to respond to questions as to where the electricity is going to come from, or how climate change should be dealt with.”

When asked about the concerns that the wind farm would ruin the natural beauty of the landscape, Potter admitted that Windy Farms have done everything to keep it as inconspicuous as possible. “We have gone to great lengths to reduce the visual impact of the wind farm, including the removal of five turbines and moving several others back from the escarpment.” And when asked if the reason for reducing the number of turbines from 21 to 16 was also aesthetic, Potter implied that it was.

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An Artist’s Rendering of The Plans

One of the major concerns of the project is ruining the natural beauty of the landscape, which could have a negative effect on tourism. Moreover Northern Ireland is seen as a budding film and television location and protestors argued that shows like Game of Thrones, which has provided a major economic boost for Northern Ireland, would be deterred from shooting here. Potter was asked about the concerns over tourism and the entertainment industry, he responded defiantly. “Most films determine their shooting destination on availability of skilled technicians and tax credits. So, these people see Northern Ireland as the New Hollywood?  On the effect of wind farms on tourism see: (1) a study commissioned by the Welsh government and published in April 2014 and (2) a study in 2011 commissioned by NITB.” Northern Ireland may not be the new Hollywood, as Potter put it, but the boost in tourism and global recognition brought forth by Game of Thrones is undeniable and deterring future projects would be a real disappointment.

Game of Thrones being filmed on the Binevenagh coast
Game of Thrones being filmed on the Binevenagh coast

Even the Northern Ireland Tourism Board has been drawn into the discussion over the aesthetic of the wind farm, per the Londonderry Sentinel (2014). “A development of this scale and in such close proximity to these features may have an impact on the ‘visitor experience’ in the area.” But when asked about the public opposition from official bodies, Potter had this to say. “The NITB did not put in an objection letter.  In fact, it would make more sense for them to support it in light of the tourism and educational centre that will be built alongside the wind farm, as well as recreational activities that it will promote: walking, jogging, cycling, etc.”

Considering the benefits of the wind farm that Potter mentioned, he was prompted for any other advantages the project could bring. Potter replied with a list:

  • Jobs – before, during and post construction in an area that is among the highest in unemployment in NI
  • Helping NI and the UK achieve binding Renewable Energy targets
  • Climate change mitigation (for those that care, as we do)
  • Community Fund of over £250,000 per annum being injected back into the local community with an emphasis on job creation and environmental projects
  • Landowner rents impacting the local economy indirectly
  • Significant Rates which will partially go to the local councils
  • The Tourism and Education Centre will provide facilities for tourists, schoolchildren/students and the local community through recreational activities
  • The peat restoration project will make the wind farm carbon positive
  • The habitat management plan will benefit flora and fauna

If all of Potter’s predicted advantages to the project come to fruition then it is hard to object the wind farm, even if it is unsightly. Potter addressed almost all of the concerns and backlash the project has faced thus far and retort for every one, some of which were more PR than others. The final question put forth to Potter was simple, what would he like to say to anyone who opposes the Binevenagh Wind Farm, in order to alleviate the concerns once and for all.

“I have had a number of discussions with opponents who came to our open days and almost all said that they have nothing against renewable energy or wind energy, but they just wanted it somewhere else.  But if coastal inhabitants in this area aren’t concerned about future (or even current!) effects of climate change, then you have to wonder what they are thinking! The project will provide much needed jobs, electricity and economic benefits, not to speak of helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. To argue that this is not enough to compensate for individual aesthetic issues is short-sighted.”

For more information and news, check out the official Windy Fields website.

 

The Not-So Positive

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As mentioned on a few occasions, there has been considerable backlash to the proposed wind farm. From those who live on the coast, to Councillors and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Windy Fields has faced opposition from day one.

The opposition from locals in the County Antrim/County Londonderry area has been vocal in the form of protests, petitions, fund-raisers and social media.

These tweets are among a myriad of those opposing the wind farm. The Binevenagh SOS also has a twitter page that regularly tweets about petitions and makes sure anyone who opposes the project is encouraged to voice their opinion.

The primary concerns are about the lengthy construction time that would be necessary to build 16 turbines, the “ruined” aesthetic of the landscape once they’re erected, and the noise generated by them. Some people have voiced their concerns that the noise of the turbines would disrupt the peaceful nature of hearing the ocean. The following video shows the noise produced by a single turbine.

The Londonderry Sentinel said last year the Northern Ireland Tourist board is “the latest in a series of groups, individuals and businesses to oppose the planned wind farm in the heart of the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Those opposed to the plans point to the negative impact on tourism of a ‘panoramic view of industrial size turbines’.” Ruth Morgan, Environmental Officer for NITB, was asked for any updates on the organisation’s feelings, to which she replied, “Tourism NI’s previous responses to this proposal – in which the tourism value of the area was highlighted – remains current.” Morgan’s comment is short but reinforces the original sentiments put forward by the NITB.

Mike Jones, Chairman of the Castlerock Community Association, was interviewed about the topic and had some choice words. “I think that this particular windfarm project is a complete ‘no-no’ in every way.” Said Jones. “The site chosen will destroy a very important landscape area which is a designated an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ and has been since 2006. ”

When asked about his thoughts on the comments made by Jeff Potter, about Northern Ireland not being “the new Hollywood”, Jones replied with “We are not Bollywood yet but clearly we’re getting there”, along with this image:

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Jones continued by saying, “The film industry is, in fact, becoming more and more important as a source of income for NI in general and for this area, in particular. The number of visitors – from all over the World – taking the Game of Thrones Heritage Trail, for instance, which brings them to the Downhill and Castlerock areas, has shot up over the last two seasons.”

Jones was asked about the potential benefits on the wind farm, as put forth by Potter, to which he said “Windy Fields have been trying recently to woo the local people with the promise of all kinds of jam tomorrow. They are so ill-thought out and changing from day-to-day that the eminent mendacity of this deceitful campaign is truly pitiful.” Potter’s claims about a boost in employment were also mentioned to Jones. “Employment? It’s mostly eyewash. Some labourers may get short-term work but all the skilled construction workers will be drafted in on short-term contracts, probably recruited from the unemployed oil industry construction workers in Scotland, with most of their pay being sent back there.” Jones summed up his opinion on the economic boost and employment opportunities by saying, “No profit to NI economy there!”

“Windfarms have their place in areas where the landscape is less important and much less likely to be damaged permanently by such constructions.” Said Jones, when asked for any final comments. “Submerged turbines off the coast, powered by tidal power are now being shown to be much more efficient and effective than wind turbines. The term ‘eco-friendly’ to me implies that you don’t desecrate finest landscapes and pillage the environment in pursuit of some ill-judged conviction that plastering over the countryside everywhere with turbines will solve our on-going energy problems.”

For the full interview with Mike Jones, visit this link.

Not everyone is as outspoken as Mr. Jones but he does convey the thoughts, albeit more articulately, of many on the Binevenagh Facebook page. However Ruth Morgan of NITB stated that, in recent surveys, tourists have said any wind farm would not deter them from visiting the coast. “A 2011 study commissioned by Tourism NI from Mintel provides some initial insights and has found that 52% domestic visitors and 48% ROI visitors would be happy to visit an area with wind turbines.”

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Choosing A Side

It seems that the topic is still a divisive one. As stated previously by Jeff Potter and Ruth Morgan, the opposition to the wind farm has fallen dramatically and only represents a fraction of the community. However, as we’ve discovered through the opposing websites, organisations, and interview with Mike Jones, that small pocket of opposition is a very vocal one.

The Binevenagh Wind Farm is not a black and white issue with an outcome that is both efficient and moral. Windy Fields have argued the necessity for the farm and attempted to compromise by lowering the number of turbines. That being said, the tumultuous construction of the site and eternal eye-sore on the historic landscape is undeniable.

With both sides claiming advantages and disadvantages, as well as hitting out at the other, the waters become murkier. It’s difficult to figure out who to believe and which side should be taken.  A new eco-friendly initiative is great for the environment but is it worth ravaging the land you’re trying to save?  As Mike Jones said, there is more efficient ways of generating power in a green way, without having to ruin a historic landscape. Regardless of what happens, Binevenagh will always be a sight to behold.

Councillor Mike Jones Interviewed Over Binevenagh Wind Farm

First off, what is your opinion on the Binevenagh wind farm?

I think that this particular windfarm project is a complete ‘no-no’ in every way. The site chosen will destroy a very important landscape area which is a designated an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ and has been since 2006. In the rest of the UK such areas enjoy strict legal protection of their environment and natural heritage and legacy. Unfortunately, NI has never got round to putting on to statute the bill required to enact such legislation, so we have a designation without the necessary protective teeth. The project as submitted to planning was badly drawn up and inaccurate and ignored the enormous damage to the local ecology and wildlife and flora which the building phase would cause. It failed to address the important issues properly. The peat bog would cease to exist and the whole environment would be severely impacted in an area which has recently become ever more popular with visitors and tourists alike.

 Films like Hellboy and TV shows like Game of Thrones have been known to use the North Coast as shooting locations but Jeff Potter, CEO of Windy Fields, said the wind farm won’t affect potential entertainment production because Northern Ireland is not “the new Hollywood.” Any thoughts on this?

The councillors are reflecting the views of their constituents in the area, who fear that the ecological balance of the area will be permanently damaged, resulting in severe flooding on the lower slopes of Binevenagh. I chair the Binevenagh AONB Management Forum and I regularly hear these views expressed by councillors. Aesthetic reasons, yes, one of the finest views in NI will be destroyed on an up to 50 mile radius. The Gliding Club, the oldest of its kind, with a long tradition of also supporting physically challenged people to get into the air, would have to cease its activities due to the proximate dangers the turbines would create. Those who do such sports as para-gliding and micro-lighting in the area would be driven out due to this danger, also.

Windy Fields have argued that construction of the wind farm would boost employability in one of the lowest employed areas in the country. They also say there will be an economic boost due to a museum, gift shop and promoted activities. What are your thoughts on this?

Potter is ill-informed and a non-resident, who cares nothing for NI but the profit the turbines will bring him and who shows a completely callous lack of interest in the damage he plans to do to the local environment and its inhabitants. The film industry is, in fact, becoming more and more important as a source of income for NI in general and for this area, in particular. The number of visitors – from all over the World – taking the Game of Thrones Heritage Trail, for instance, which brings them to the Downhill and Castlerock areas, has shot up over the last two seasons.

And finally, the Binevenagh wind farm would ideally make Northern Ireland a more eco-friendly country, but are there alternatives?

Windy Fields have been trying recently to woo the local people with the promise of all kinds of jam tomorrow. In spite of earlier promises to make binding commitments to the Community these potential goodies are no more than paper-thin promises which, since they’re not legally binding, will be cast aside as soon as the Company has got what it wants. They are so ill-thought out and changing from day-to-day that the eminent mendacity of this deceitful campaign is truly pitiful.

Employment? It’s mostly eyewash. Yes, lots of lorries will transport thousands and thousands of tons of gravel infill and concrete and these drivers will have work, just as the people living along the access routes will be subjected to dreadful traffic noise and congestion on completely unsuitable roads. Some labourers may get short-term work but all the skilled construction workers will be drafted in on short-term contracts, probably recruited from the unemployed oil industry construction workers in Scotland, with most of their pay being sent back there. The Turbines will be fabricated abroad – currently in Holland or Scandinavia – as is the usual practice here, and shipped in to Belfast. No profit to NI economy there.

Any Final Thoughts or Comments?

Windfarms have their place in areas where the landscape is less important and much less likely to be damaged permanently by such constructions. Submerged turbines off the coast, powered by tidal power are now being shown to be much more efficient and effective than wind turbines. The term ‘eco-friendly’ to me implies that you don’t desecrate finest landscapes and pillage the environment in pursuit of some ill-judged conviction that plastering over the countryside everywhere with turbines will solve our on-going energy problems. Turbines don’t help when there’s no wind or, as is often the case here, when there’s too much. They become dangerous, have to be turned off and, as we cannot yet store power to any useful extent, we still need the coal, gas, or nuclear power stations to provide a back-up in any case. What we need are hugely better schemes to insulate buildings and reduce overall power consumption, then we might be getting somewhere.