Cold water has been poured on recent reports that plans to build more than 1,000 giant wind turbines across the midlands were ‘shelved’.
Laois businessman and wind awareness campaigner Henry Fingleton sees the turbine plans merely as “deferred”.
“It is very important that communities don’t get complacent and think they have gone away. There are still 2,000 farmers signed up, those options are for seven to ten years, that’s loads of time for companies to get permission. In a way it would have been better to have the fight now, as opposed to it dragging on,” he said.
Private companies Element Power and Mainstream, have separate plans to build over 1,000 wind turbines to suppy the UK with renewable energy by 2020, with 200 of them in Laois.
The plans have divided communities.
“Families living close to optioned land will spend the next ten years wondering when an application will be dropped in their door,” said Mr Fingleton, who says it will have “huge repercussions for property costs”.
The chairperson of People Over Wind, he says the big issue is that Ireland has no energy export plan.
“We are like a headless chicken, driven by the industry. The likelihood is that these companies will re-orientate to supply to the Irish grid instead. Or their options could be sold to smaller companies, it’s a mess really,” he said, adding that announcements of the end of the turbines were “premature”.
We have no closure on this, it is wide open still,” he said.
The Irish government insisted on an intergovernmental agreement with the UK to oversee the projects, and are now doing a cost benefit analysis, while backing the projects as a jobs and income boost.
Last week Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte revealed his doubts following talks with the UK minister Ed Davey.
“In terms of the timelines, I can’t now see an export project as envisaged. I am doubtful as to whether an inter-governmental agreement can be concluded with the British government,” he said
Both Element Power and Mainstream declined to make a comment on the developments.