With just weeks to go before the local elections, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has become embroiled in a major public controversy amid growing fears his home county will become a hub for pylons and wind-farms.
The Taoiseach has been singled out for criticism by a new coalition of anti-pylon and wind-farm groups in Mayo.
At a recent 700-strong strong meeting in the Hotel Ballina organised by the new Moy Valley Protection Group, Mr Kenny’s constituents who attended were warned of plans to construct thousands of giant wind turbines and “up to 200 pylons” in areas of “natural scenic beauty in Mayo”.
The new group is starkly critical of the Grid West Project and Mr Kenny.
Its chairman, Enda Farrell, told the Sunday Independent: “People living in rural areas are deeply unhappy. This is Enda Kenny’s backyard, but sometimes people don’t mind the home fires. People are wondering if Enda has had his head turned by more interesting events in Europe.”
Mr Farrell also claimed that “people are noticing” that Mr Kenny’s hometown of Castlebar appears, according to council plans, to be “a pylon-free zone”.
Referring to controversial plans to sell surplus energy to the UK, another local source said: “We are not going to let Enda Kenny sell out the Moy Valley to David Cameron and British wind farms.
“It’s a disgrace, Labour senators like Denis Landy and John Whelan have been better able to protect their constituency than the Taoiseach.
“We are facing the prospect of having four times as many turbines and pylons as anywhere else.”
Martin Daly, joint PRO of the group warned that the Taoiseach’s constituency is now “the new cockpit of the fight against pylons and wind-farms”.
In an indication of the political nervousness surrounding the issue, Mr Daly noted that the only empty seats at the packed meeting “were the ones reserved for councillors – only six out of 31 turned up”.
The group’s Billy Heffron also accused Mr Kenny of ignoring their concerns.
“The Taoiseach won’t engage with us, his phone must be off,” he said sarcastically.
The groups who have united to oppose the proposed construction of wind turbines and pylons include the Moygownagh\Kilfian Community and Landscape Protection Group, Knockmore Against Pylons, Ardagh Against Pylons, Foxford Against Pylons, who have been joined by individuals from towns in the Moy Valley Region, including Ballina, Crossmolina and Killala.
The coalition listed a minimum of 57 villages and towns in the area that will be affected by the pylon and wind-farm plans.
In local advertisements, the group warns at least 1,000 sqm of Mayo will be “littered with wind turbines, pylons and sub stations”.
The group also claims that some of the pylons will be up to 200 metres high and that the giant metal structures could cause “sleep deprivation, tourism black-spots and a slump in property values”.
One source told the Sunday Independent: “Enda had better wake up or he’ll be facing civil war in Mayo.”
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