The dispute between a wind energy company and its opponents in Offaly intensified this week.
Two groups released statements hitting out at comments made by the chief executive of Element Power, Tim Cowhig, in an interview published in the Tribune last week.
Meanwhile, Mr Cowhig released a statement condemning what he called ‘the tactics of scaremongering and misinformation’ being employed by opponents.
Last week Mr Cowhig said there were no health, noise or property value issues with wind farms and stated there is an opportunity to develop a ‘serious wind industry’ in Ireland.
His remarks were greeted with dismay by groups which have been formed in two areas earmarked for wind farms by Element.
Neither area is designated for wind energy by Offaly County Council in its County Development Plan.
The Killurin Annaghmore Gurteen Wind Turbine Concern Group listed a number of amenities and attractions which it fears ‘would be forever dwarfed to insignificance alongside giant 185 metre high industrial wind turbines’.
The attractions included the Slieve Blooms, Annaghmore Lake, Mullagh Hill, the Derry Bog, Annaghmore House, Knock Barron hill, Knock Hill and Kinnity Castle.
In their statement, the Killurin Annaghmore Gurteen Concern Group reminded Element that a survey of their area found that 90 per cent of people said they did not want the turbines.
On Element Power’s pledge to set up a €250 million ten-year community fund across five counties in the Midlands, the Concern Group asked: ‘Why do you need to set up these funds if there’s nothing wrong with wind turbine development?’
Another group, the Kilcormac/Kinnitty/Cadamstown Wind Energy Information Group say there will be a ‘huge’ price to pay if Element Power’s plans for the wind farm close to the Slieve Blooms comes to fruition.
Element Power’s Greenwire project envisages a network of wind farms across Offaly, Laois, Westmeath, Meath and Kildare generating electricity for the UK market.
The Kilcormac/Kinnitty/Cadamstown Wind Energy Information Group says it represents ‘concerned residents’ in the Knockbarron/Annaghmore/Kinnitty/Munny/Derrinboy/ Kilcormac and Cadamstown areas.
A number of meetings have been held in Kilcormac recently where residents have voiced their ‘dismay and anger’ that Element Power Ltd ‘may already have executed Option Agreements with landowners in the above areas without any consultation with the local community here’, a statement from the group said this week.
The group claims this is ‘in clear breach’ of the Irish Wind Energy Association’s (IWEA) Best Practice Principles in Community Engagement Guidelines.
According to the Kilcormac/Kinnitty/Cadamstown Wind Energy Information Group, the IWEA requires developers to commit to engage with local communities ‘with integrity, fairness and transparency…..from an early stage’.
In his latest statement, Mr Cowhig said opposition groups were creating anxiety.
‘It is clear from their campaign, which is built on a tissue of untruths and misinformation, that many of the opponents of Greenwire do not have the best interests of the Midlands region and its people at heart. Moreover, they are preying on people and scaremongering to create anxiety,’ he said.
‘Swathes of the Midlands have long suffered from economic deprivation and its attendant ills of unemployment and emigration,’ he added. ‘The exciting proposal to harness its wind energy resource and deliver the economic benefits of that harvest to the region has the potential to inject major investment to the region and realise the spin-off benefits which that would bring.’
‘Opponents of wind energy regularly cite the noise made by wind turbines as a reason not to support renewable energy. The sound living by a turbine should be no different to that of a forest growing 500 metres from your home. People have nothing to be worried about as far as wind energy is concerned, misinformation regarding the sector is the biggest threat to their peace of mind. There are no ill-effects on people’s health due to turbines,’ the Element Power chief said.
‘Greenwire has the potential to deliver enormous benefits to the regional economy in the Midlands as well as significant financial benefits to local authorities which can be used to fund vital local services. The realisation of that potential is within reach and we must not allow a small group of people to prevent the people of the region from availing of this marvellous opportunity,’ Mr Cowhig concluded.
Turn to Page 10 for further reports on the opposition to Element Power’s plans.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding