Councillor denies ‘door-to-door’ wind turbine visits

Emo County Councillor Tom Mulhall has denied that he accompanied wind power companies on door-to-door visits to Vicarstown landowners, insisting that he shared concerns about the height and scale of the wind turbines proposed in Laois.

Emo County Councillor Tom Mulhall has denied that he accompanied wind power companies on door-to-door visits to Vicarstown landowners, insisting that he shared concerns about the height and scale of the wind turbines proposed in Laois.

Claims were made at public meetings in Vicarstown and Ballyroan that the Fine Gael councillor went with wind companies to visit farmers. The companies need to lease land to erect the turines.

“I want to make it clear, I have not gone door-to-door, I have not met with individual farmers,” Cllr Mulhall told the Leinster Express.

“I am not promoting wind energy. I didn’t bring Element Power or any company to talk to farmers. I work for farmers individually if asked to do something,” he said.

Element Power made presentations last July and in early February to councillors he said.

“I met with the county manager and officials with Element Power last summer, but nothing is happening, there is no planning application through,” he said.

He asked the public to weigh up positives and negatives of the project, which involves building up to 2.300 wind turbines at 185metres high, in five midland counties, to supply electricity direcly to Britain.

“I wouldn’t like to see a missed opportunity if this was to bring jobs. In the region of 7,000 jobs will be created. Laois County Council will gain by something in the region of €1,5 million annually in rates, they’re the positives,” Cllr Mulhall said.

“I would agree that landowners are going to benefit, but neighbouring landowners will benefit too. If it ever happens at all, there will be a year of planning applications going through, these companies will do consultation days with locals, that is going to be done before the assessments, there will be three or four months of assessments,” he said.

“People have a right to have concerns, I have concerns myself about height and scale. Each individual windfarm will have to put in an application, a windfarm is anything from four to 25 turbines. I know companies will speed up public consultations because people are concerned.”

“I have nothing at all to do with individual farmers, if this is good, I would like to see it happen, if it’s bad, I wouldn’t,” he reiterated.