Wind turbine fear

Giant wind turbines 185 metre high could be dominating the landscape of Laois within five years, with many landowners already having signed option forms for a lucrative yearly payout.

Giant wind turbines 185 metre high could be dominating the landscape of Laois within five years, with many landowners already having signed option forms for a lucrative yearly payout.

UK energy companies are going door to door in the Vicarstown area, offering farmers cash to sign up to have the giant wind turbines built on their land.

More than 200 concerned Vicarstown residents turned up to a public meeting last Sunday morning, February 23 in Vicarstown Community Hall, as well as a representative from the Irish Farmers Association, and local politicians.

The newly formed local committee Laois Wind Energy Awareness Group, say 15 turbines are planned between Vicarstown and Rossmore, with more near Courtwood and on towards Kildare. The colossal turbines are 185 metres tall, one and a half times the height of Dublin’s Spire, weighing 6,000 tonnes each. Access roads will be built by the companies installing them, with cabling underground. If planning permission is passed, the electricity generated will be sold to UK consumers.

Some farmers are said to have already signed up for turbines on their land, potentially getting €25,000 annually per turbine.

“I wasn’t allowed build a two storey house because of the visual impact, these monstrosities would be twenty times the height of that,” said a committee member, who says most residents are not farmers, but people who moved to the pretty rural location during the boom.

The windfarm is part of the €8 billion ‘Greenwire’ project, which will see windfarms in the midlands serving the UK grid, giving an estimated return annually of €50 million to the Irish economy, between rents to farmers and rates to local authorities,

A spokesperson for Element Power confirmed they have approached landowners to sign option agreements in Laois, Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Offaly. However consulting with communities will only be done when sites are finally chosen.

“We haven’t decided on final sites yet, Detailed surveys will be complete later this year and when the sites are chosen, we will engage fully with the communities,” he said.