Windfarm plans in Vicarstown have left neighbours divided with some expecting a windfall with others fearing for their futures.
Element Power held an open day in the community hall last Tuesday afternoon, which at one stage was invaded by protesters waving placards.
It wasa the second such day held by EP in Laois, the other held in The Swan recently.
Ray Conroy from nearby Coolroe is a member of Laois Wind Energy Awareness, who say turbines will damage the environment and health.
“It’s the whole scale of the the plan, we will be surrounded, from Emo down to the Barrow. I can honestly say they are talking garbage,” he said.
The group paid a Portlaoise estate agent to value houses in the area if turbines are built.
“He estimated a 50 to 60 per cent drop,” he said.
He labels grants offered by EP as “tantamount to bribery”, and enlisting GAA stars Padraig Clancy and Kildare’s Johhn y Doyle as liaison officers “just a pr exercise”.
Almost 100 people attended the day, among them local landowner PJ Kelly.
“I would have had them but my land was not suitable. There are some turbines coming into our area, and I am here to find out information. I’d see it as more beneficial. There is no evidence to prove a health risk. There are people opposed but many are are very much in favour, and in anticipation of what development might come,” he said.
As chair of Courtwood GAA, he wanted to learn about the community fund.
“There are some turbines going up within 600 to 700 metres of the pitch. We could see our small club being able to develop and survive,” he said.
He had recently visited the Lisheen windfarm in Kerry.
“The people there were quite content, they said it was quite acceptable,” he said.
Cllr Tom Mulhall, previously accused of backing the project, is on the fence.
“If I find out it’s going to be bad, I definitely wouldn’t approve, but I wouldn’t like to see us miss an opportunity. There has been a lot of old talk, but we need information,” he said.
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