Eighty per cent of invited Mayo County Councillors and not a single TD turned up for a meeting in Ballina attended by almost 700 citizens concerned about plans by Eirgrid and wind-energy companies to instal pylons in East and North Mayo. The only Dáil Deputy to turn up was Luke Ming Flanagan, who represents Roscommon and is a candidate in the upcoming European Elections.
The planned designation of large areas of the county was likened to ‘a junk yard for the iron and steel of pylons and industrial wind farms’, by those in opposition to the proposals, while the exemption of ‘a golden triangle west of Castlebar to Westport and south towards Leenane’ was effectively a type of ‘apartheid’, they contended.
“It seems Mayo has its own version of apartheid in the rush to make the county the UK’s offshore wind farm even when the UK isn’t buying,” said a campaign statement, released yesterday (Monday).
The meeting was addressed by Moy Valley Protection Joint-Chairman Eddie Farrell and UK energy expert Malcolm Browne before being opened to the floor and the six county councillors and some EU candidates, including Deputy Flanagan, who attended.
Speaking in the context of the necessity of such an infrastructure, which the group believes is serving a bubble in the wind-energy sector, Mr Farrell said: “Ireland has about 7,200 megawatts of installed capacity. If every power station and every wind turbine in the country was working together, that’s what we can produce. The proposal in the renewable energy policy that Mayo County Council put together is for Mayo to produce 12,700 megawatts of power,” they are claiming.
Calling on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to intervene in the debacle, he said that ‘politicians have a responsibility to the county as a whole, not just to their own areas’.
Energy expert, Malcolm Browne told the meeting that because the pla nned wind turbines would produce too much ‘intermittent power’, Ireland would become ‘a forced seller’ of wind energy to Britain and Europe.
Speaking from the floor, a young pregnant mother, from Moygownagh, Valentina Molloy, described ‘the difficulties and hoops she and her husband had to go through to get planning permission for their new home, only to discover after it was built, that no such restrictions were put on plans to have industrial wind farms, an ugly substation, and 400 KV lines and pylons surrounding that same home’.
She said: “Unless we fight as a community to protect the Moy Valley region, to protect our homes and the land you may have, and most importantly, protect our children, and for me, my unborn child, these organisations are going to come in and take over what belongs to us all.’
Independent councillor Gerry Ginty acknowledged that ‘he had made a mistake [in initially supporting the project], as he had not been fully briefed on how flawed Mayo Co Council’s Renewable Energy Strategy was’, saying that he now stood fully with Cllr Seamus Weir, who resigned from Fine Gael over the controversy.
The Moy Valley Protection Group urged the public to consider voting only for those councillors who had publicly repented of their mistake, and to consider new candidates, be they independent, or other party, who could prove they were fully up to speed on the issue, especially the fact that Grid West is only needed if wind farms are erected.
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