The prospect of windfarms being built across central Westmeath is “putting fear into communities”, according to Cllr Tom Farrell.
Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, Cllr Farrell, who is a farmer (according to the Fine Gael website), and is based in Walderstown, said that representatives from at least two windfarm developers have been approaching farmers in Kilbeggan, Ballymore, Drumraney and Moyvoughley about leasing land.
While he said that it was up to individual farmers to decide what they do with their land, he urged them to seek independent advice before agreeing to anything.
“I am afraid that if someone signs a contract, it leaves their farms open to a lot of unforeseen circumstances if anything happens,” said Cllr Farrell.
“I would appeal to farmers that if they are approached, they would seek independent assistance.
“I have been told that some windfarm companies are offering to pay fees and I think that’s a very dangerous precedent.
“I hope the farming bodies get on board. I have been in touch with the IFA president, Joe Healy, on this matter and I hope that they give their members good advice.”
At the September meeting of Westmeath County Council, held on Monday of last week, Cllr Farrell raised the issue during a discussion on the council’s new draft strategy on climate change (see page 20 for details of that discussion and the council’s plans).
Cllr Denis Leonard was one of a number of councillors who said that there had been an over-emphasis on wind when it comes to the discussion on renewable forms of energy.
He said: “The problem in this county and many other counties around the country is that we went down one road only, that of wind.
“We didn’t go down the roads of solar, anaerobic digestion or waste energy,” Cllr Leonard pointed out.
“There is far more in the cocktail of renewable energy than wind. There are 10 or 12 other forms that would work in Westmeath and we need to embrace them.”
Cllr Andrew Duncan said that claims that wind energy was the answer to renewable energy commitments made by previous governments were wide of the mark.
“Wind farms have no meaningful impact on CO2 emissions whatsoever,” he said.
“The terminology then started to change from CO2 savings to energy efficiency and energy security.
“The reality is that in Westmeath in particular there is no acceptance of windfarms. Whereas with solar there is no issue whatsoever.”
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