Wind industry promoters have been accused of “having something to hide” after nightclub bouncers were called on to expel a Tyrone campaign group from an information seminar.
The bizarre confrontation took place at Strabane’s Fir Trees Hotel on Thursday morning during a conference by wind and marine specialists RenewableUK.
As representatives from lobbying group West Tyrone Against Wind Turbines attempted to gain entry they were turned away and told they were not welcome. Seconds later the media were also told it was a “non-press event”.
As West Tyrone Against Wind Turbines spokesperson Geoffrey Simpson made his objections clear, two bouncers appeared and reiterated that he would not be gaining access. According to RenewableUK’s John Lang, pre-registration was required for the day-long event.
An advertisement on the London-based company’s website does state that seminars, ‘Will be held exclusively for local authority planners, councillors and representatives from statutory agencies.’
Speaking after being ejected however, Mr Simpson said it was “obvious that the wind industry had something to hide”.
West Tyrone Against Wind Turbines was established in opposition to the proliferation of turbines being erected across Tyrone.
Currently 70 per cent of all windfarms in the North are situated on hills and mountains around West Tyrone.
Geoffrey Simpson said, “We held a symposium in February and we invited everyone along to disseminate information about windfarms and turbines and to help them form their own opinions. But here today they are refusing the very people who are going to be affected by these developments.
“It says to me that there is obviously something they want to hide. We have a mandate for 2,500 people who have objected to the number of windfarms appearing in the Omagh area. Yet the wind industry is telling us we are not welcome,” Mr Simpson said.
Outside the hotel, campaigners continued to press their case to individuals who were welcome at the event.
Newry and Mourne councillor Andy Moffatt agreed that barring anti-wind campaigners sent out a sinister message.
“I would definitely be concerned. If this is only a fact finding event, what have they got to hide? They won’t get around us because we have problems with these things in our area too,” Cllr Moffatt said.
WTAW’s Jim McLaughlin described the seminar as a “wine and dine exercise for councillors and planners”. He described the attitude of RenewableUK as “a disgrace”.
Meanwhile the group’s Owen McMullen said elected representatives attending should bear in mind their voters.
“You only have to look here today where we were denied access and the press were turned away. It’s obvious they don’t want people to know what they are doing because it will mean less firefighting for them do.
“But there is an important message in there for councillors and that is the wind industry can’t vote for them.
“The people who are suffering in their homes because of these turbines, the people whose homes are being devalued and those living in communities that are now divided because of windfarms can,” Mr McMullen warned.
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