Residents in Vicarstown and Ballybrittas who are unopposed to windfarms, claim they are being ‘intimidated’ by their anti-turbine neighbours.
Two people asked the Leinster Express for anonymity, saying they were doing so out of fear of intimidation.
‘Mary’ from Vicarstown says protesters knocked on her door to ask why she had not erected anti-turbine signs.
“There are so many people out there for it but we can’t open our mouths. A handful of people have become extremely forceful. My kids are being harassed in school, people don’t wave at me, I am getting dirty looks. The anti side are employing bullying tactics,” she claimed.
She defended farmers who signed up for turbines, believing they were happy to do so.
“This is going to bring employment. That income would surpass what a whole farm brings in. There is going to be more money so local business will get a lift,” she said.
“Turbines will alter the landscape, that has already been decided by the government. It’s now farmers deciding are they in or not,” she said.
‘Ann’ fromBallybrittas has not signed up for turbines, but is not against them.
“I don’t have a problem with turbines, but I have a difficulty with people claiming to be representing locals. They aren’t, they are new to our community. They make a loud noise, but if you drive around and look, only a small number of houses have signs up,” she said.
“People are afraid to talk, because you don’t want them at your door. Turbines don’t do any damage, there is not going to be any oil or coal in the future, what do they want us to do? What’s good for the local economy is good, especially right now,” she said.
The chairperson of Laois Wind Energy Association, Kevin Scully says he is not blaming farmers who, he says, have “been duped” into signing option deals, but the company behind the project, Element Power, who he says encouraged tension by asking those farmers to attend the recent open day in Vicarstown.
He said this “incited people who are against turbines”.
The information day ended early after protesters flooded the hall. “There was some name calling and argy bargy as the day went on. The last thing we want is neighbours fighting against neighbours.
“This company will never live in Vicarstown. I will always live here, I am a farmer with four kids, the last thing I want is the community split. “They have taken the heart out of the community, it’s just reckless,” he said.