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Wind farm threat hasn’t gone away, say opposition

Despite keeping a low profile in recent months, Element Power is doing “everything in its power” to push on with its plans to develop industrial wind turbines in Westmeath and will attempt to “steamroll” over opposition, according to a local campaigner.

On December 23, the wind energy developer applied for planning permission for the “continuation of use” of an 80m meteorological mast at Aghamore, Kinnegad to “measure local climatic conditions for a period of 30 years”.

Spokesman for the Lakelands Wind Information Group (LWIG), Cllr Andrew Duncan, said that the timing of Element’s planning application so close to Christmas “was typical of wind energy operators”.

“At every juncture they have tried to keep things under wraps until it is too late. All pretence of bringing the community with them has gone. Despite widespread local opposition and a very clear message from communities that they don’t want them, they are committed to impose them on people.

“Element are very keen to proceed and are doing everything in their power to push it on. They will steamroll over anyone and have no interest in what anyone thinks. They are an organisation purely concerned with profit and will continue until they complete what they started.”

Element’s activity in Westmeath decreased in the second half of last year as it focused its attentions on projects in Meath, Kildare and Offaly.

However, Cllr Duncan says that LWIG and other local opposition groups have been “as busy as ever”.

He added that Element’s recent planning application to retain the use of the mast in Kinnegad is just “the first step of the process” and that, with developments planned in three neighbouring counties, Westmeath continues to be “strategically important”.

“There is not as much media attention (on wind turbines in Westmeath). We are still working away. Every day there is another issue arising with wind power, another turbine collapse, another family left sleepless at night because of this lunacy. We are still doing everything in our power to ensure these projects do not go ahead on shore. End of story.”

In a statement to the Westmeath Examiner, Element Power said that “it continues to explore the possibility of wind farm development in the midlands, including County Westmeath”.