The actions of windfarm developers Element and Mainstream in Westmeath has been like something out of the “wild west”.
That’s according to Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin who was on the local election canvas trail in Kilbeggan and Mullingar yesterday.
In an interview with the Westmeath Examiner Deputy Martin criticised the windfarm developers for their lack of consultation with communities.
“The way things happened here is not ideal in my view, where companies have private conversations with a whole range of farming interests. They are entitled to do that but the problem is that no one has heard about it until it is a fait accompli. The county manager enjoys the rate base that will come and fair enough but that leaves a significant element of the population opposed because no one alerted them in the first instance about what was going to happen. There hasn’t been proper consultation from day one in my opinion and I said this to the companies involved.
“I think there is an issue about the densities. There is a lot of competition going on here about who will get the fastest footprint on the ground. There is a bit of the wild west going on here in terms of the companies competing about who will get most people signed up.
“(Coalition) TDs are saying one thing locally but nationally the government have a different perspective on it. The local elections are coming and the view is to kick everything back until after it. It’s the same with the pylons.
“Windfarms started in rural areas away from housing. The midlands development is the first major development where it’s really coming into relatively well populated areas. The idea that you can do that and no one will notice particularly with turbines that are massively bigger and taller than anything we’ve ever seen before without any proper consultation and that there would be no rows about it, I think that was extremely naive to say the least. I don’t think people are naive, I think they thought lets go for it.”
See next week’s Westmeath Examiner for the full interview.