There are fears that plans to build 750 wind turbines across the midlands and Kildare are set to divide communities and pit neighbour against neighbour.
Up to 160 people turned out at a public meeting in Kildangan last Wednesday August 14 to learn more about Element Power’s Greenwire project. The company was asked to attend but declined.
Representatives from the Lakelands Wind Farm Information Group from Westmeath outlined their views.
They believe the turbines will reduce property values, pose health risks and threaten Kildare’s prized thoroughbred industry. The Westmeath group also cited concerns about the company’s contracts with landowners and farmers to allow them to built turbines on their land.
Element Power refuted those claims, branded the comments “misleading” and accused the group of “scaremongering”.
Element Power Ireland CEO Tim Cowhig moved to assure people in Kildare there is a major opportunity for economic recovery through the exportation of wind.
“People have nothing to fear from wind energy, there are presently 1,300 onshore turbines operational in Ireland with more than 225,000 located in 79 countries across the globe yet there is no evidence of any significant negative impact which can be directly attributed to an adjacent wind turbine.
“We are very much aware of the effects which emigration and unemployment have had on many parts of Kildare.
“By creating employment as well as offering financial support to community organisations and groups which have a positive impact on local communities, Element Power intends to make a real and positive contribution to the area,” he said.
Meanwhile, as local farmers continue to sign up to the scheme, many neighbours are uneasy about living close to a 185m turbine.
Laois residents, who are in opposition to the plans, told the Kildangan meeting there had been deep divides within their community.
They urged people not to let the same thing happen in Kildare and not to alienate farmers who had signed up to the scheme.
They said it was important to realise the enemy was not the farmers but the big companies.
Read the full report in this week’s Leinster Leader