Jim Gallagher — Sunday World — July 11, 2013
CONTROVERSIAL: Opponents say wind farms are damaging to health and property
One company planning a massive development across the midlands for the British market is accused of using
false figures to claim it had huge support.
It also told locals from one village it had no plans for their area, only for them to find plans which showed it had lied.
Mainstream Renewable Power said it had carried out an extensive survey of local people and found that only 30 per cent of people opposed their plan.
A delegation of 25 sceptical residents visited Mainstream’s office in Edenderry and were told the company had surveyed the area for three weeks.
Locals disputed these results and decided to carry out their own survey.
They visited the same areas within one kilometre of proposed sites in Killucan, Raharney and Bracklyn, Co. Westmeath, over two weeks and found a massive 90 per cent opposed the massive 185m (610ft) turbines.
“We visited 206 homes and 200 took part. Ninety per cent disagreed with the wind farm proposal, five per cent had no opinion and five per cent agreed with it,” said Daryl Kennedy, chair of the Killucan-Raharney Windfarm Information Group.
“When Mainstream did their survey they did it in the mornings when people were at work.”
Locals from Knockmant then visited Mainstream last week and said they were told the company had no plans for their village. But while in the office they found plans showing the opposite was true.
“They became very defensive and wouldn’t let them take copies of the plans,” said spokesman Daryl.
He said the residents also saw staff preparing health fact sheets about wind turbines from a reference document, but they were only extracting paragraphs that supported wind farms.
The neighbouring Lakeland Windfarm Information Group has also now done its own survey in villages near Mullingar and found 80 per cent were against the massive development.
The Sunday World revealed earlier this year how Mainstream and Element Power planned to build over 2,400 massive turbines across the midlands solely to export energy to the UK, after Wales refused to have them.
It would be the biggest windfarm in Europe with the largest turbines measuring 185m (610ft), blades weighing 75 tons and requiring concrete bases the size of an Olympic swimming pool.
Andrew Duncan, of the Lakeland group, said: “England has had wind power for 25 years but there are only 947 turbines in the whole country. People are waking up to what’s happening and there are now 15 action groups in Westmeath and they are spreading to Offaly and Laois.”
The Midlands projects would also affect Meath, Longford, Kildare, Tipperary and Kilkenny.
In Donegal, Ernan O’Donnell, of the Glenties Wind Farm Information Group told the Sunday World how their bank account had been hacked into with the loss of hundreds of euro.
The theft is now being investigated by the gardai.
Last year, a Sunday World investigation uncovered a dirty tricks campaign when opponents of the wind farm had their identities ‘hijacked’ when letters were sent to the County Council with their forged signatures.
Opponents of the 22 wind turbines were also savaged in letters to the council by supposedly pro-wind farm locals. But the letters were written by fictitious people using false addresses.
Meanwhile, the Glenties group is still celebrating after An Bord Pleanála turned down the proposed windfarm at Straboy last month.
The action group has now called on the county council to reverse its “disastrous” decision to designate 2,363 townlands as suitable for wind farms.
The Sunday World sought a comment from Mainstream Renewable Power, but had received no reply at the time of going to print.