Up to 300 people gathered in Vicarstown on Sunday to register their resistance to the location of 185-metre (600ft) high wind turbines in the area. The meeting had been scheduled to take place in the community centre, but such was the turnout that it was moved to the nearby GAA club premises.
A Fine Gael councilor, Tom Mulhall, denied rumours that he is introducing wind energy company representatives to landowners, where the companies are interested in offering lease options on lands to locate turbines on.
The meeting described the proposed turbines as “the highest ever turbines anywhere in the world.” The height of the turbines was described as “20 times higher than a two-storey house” or “taller than the spire on Dublin’s O’Connell’s Street.”
The meeting also heard that landowners are being offered approximately €20,000 per turbine, per year to locate on, if planning permission is granted to the companies to proceed with their plans.
The IFA was also criticised at the meeting, when it was accused of “duping farmers” when it “endorsed” contracts between the wind energy companies and farmers.
Local IFA chairman Patrick McLoughlin denied the charges and told the meeting: “The IFA does not tell farmers what to do. A price has been agreed, but it’s up to the farmers to decide themselves.”
There was unanimous support for wind energy at the meeting. However, many expressed their outright objection to locating them in the Vicarstown area. One contributor said that he had no difficulty being described as a NIMBY (‘not in my backyard’).
Others said that the two companies hoping to set up wind farms in the midland region, Element Power and Mainsteam Renewable Power, are hoping to have up 750 wind turbines erected. They said that the electricity generated will not be used on the national grid, but instead will be exported to Britain.
Meeting organisers and the newly established group Laois Wind Energy Awareness Group said it believes that 15 turbines are planned for the Vicarstown, Emo and Rath areas, with wind farms set for other parts of the county as well.
Full report in this week’s printed edition.
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