Cllr Peter Burke, Cllr Denis Leonard, Michael and Dorothy Keane and Daryl O'Kennedy, at an information meeting on windfarms in Rathwire.

Windfarm groups take protest to EU meeting

The midlands’ anti-windfarm campaigners intend taking their grievances to Dublin Castle next week, to protest outside an energy conference taking place as one of the final events of Ireland’s EU presidency.

Buses are running from locations across the county, with a view to marching from Christ Church Cathedral to Dublin Castle for the 13th Inter-Parliamentary Meeting on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, on June 21 and 22.

The cost of the buses is to be subsidised by the groups lobbying against the plans of the firms Element Power and Mainstream to erect turbines across the midlands.

Andy Duncan, the Mullingar auctioneer who has become the spokesman for the anti-windfarm movement locally, believes Westmeath alone now has more anti-windfarm groups than exist in the rest of the country combined.

They will be joined in Dublin by groups from the other counties affected by the energy firms’ proposals, and by representatives of organisations in other parts of the country which fear the spread of windfarms to their areas – or who have them already.

The protest is taking place on June 21, and participants are being asked to meet at Christ Church Cathedral at 10.30am, and to march from there to Dublin Castle, where a number of speeches will be made.

The Mullingar buses are to meet at Penney’s car park in Mullingar at 8am, and there are also buses travelling from Ballymore, Castletown Geoghegan, and from Kinnegad.

Mr Duncan says that a survey carried out door to door by the anti-windfarm group in Raharney found that 91.3 per cent of the people living in that area were opposed to the erection of turbines in their areas. The figure is, he claims, more accurate than Mainstream’s own figures which estimate opposition at just 30 per cent.

Public event
Meanwhile, Element Power said it is satisfied with the level of attendance and engagement at the first public information days in the midlands last week.
The company held events at Delvin and Carlanstown to answering questions from the public.

“We were delighted to see almost 300 people take time to attend our events,” said Tim Cowhig, CEO of Element Power, adding that the firm viewed it as “important” to meet as many people as possible, and “explain the potential which the Midlands has to develop a new clean renewable export industry”.

“We will continue to engage and listen to communities across each of the five counties where we are proposing the development of Greenwire through a continuation of such information days later this month and beyond,” he stated.
Mr Cowhig expressed his appreciation to all those who had provided feedback in the course of the first week of the public information days.

He said there will be further consultation across all five midland counties with the intention being to apply for planning permission early in 2014.

“We have learned a great deal from this exercise. There is a huge appetite for accurate information about wind energy as unfortunately, there has been a great deal of misinformation circulated and presented through various channels.

"A broad cross-section of people attended our events and it was very important that we provide them with the facts about the sector to dispel a great deal of the concern which exists. It is imperative that the views of all parties are taken into account before finalising potential wind farm sites,” concluded Mr Cowhig.

Public information days will continue throughout the month with more dates being finalised in Counties Kildare, Offaly and Laois.