This is the Press Release from WindAware Ireland concerning the critical situation in which the people of Ratheniska, County Laois, find themselves.
Wind Aware Ireland Press Release
One Small Laois Community to Blockade A Big Energy Company
A small Laois community will begin to blockade the site of an enormous electrical sub-station in Ratheniska Co. Laois tomorrow morning 25th June. Practically every hill within view of the site has a wind farm proposed upon it and the largest solar farm in Ireland (320 acres) has just been granted permission in the valley. This an entire region facing the destruction of their entire landscape. Decent and reasonable people are being left no option but to engage in direct action.
Local spokesperson Colm Fingleton said; ‘… we were never told the truth, … this company Eirgird have never told this community the truth about this station.. …I’m sorry but we are going to have to call it to a halt.’
The project, the Laois/Kilkenny reinforcement project, which Eirgrid claim is required to reinforce the grid in ‘high wind scenarios’ and has been opposed by the local community for over nine years. The sub-station, sited above an important aquifer that supplies water to large areas of Laois, was opposed through the planning system and the courts until Eirgridthreatened to pursue to the community for enormous costs. The community were left with no choice but to withdraw their case. This tactic is typical of large companies pushing infrastructure on unwilling rural communities.
In addition to this enormous sub-station Laois is the site of several proposed wind farms, one of which, in Cullenagh, has been opposed by that community for over 6 years. This group were also threatened with costs in court by An Bord Pleanála but continued their fight and have recently scored a major victory against Coillte in the European Court of Justice.
Deputy Sean Fleming has said he will bring the issue before the Public Accounts Committee and examine expenditure by Eirgrid, which to date, has seen an overspend of €30m. The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has stated that ‘each proposed project over €10m will undergo a rigorous cost-benefit analysis’. When asked to confirm the purpose and necessity of the extra capacity for further power line connection, CRU responded; ‘The (CRU) does not hold any records in relation to this matter’ but, amazingly, that the project had been ‘deemed necessary works’.
In other words, the purpose of this €110m project, the costs of which will be retrievable from energy customers despite the complete lack of cost-benefit analysis, is so secret that even the Regulator doesn’t know what it is for!
Wind energy and associated grid infrastructure, such as this, are estimated to cost about €1.2 billion p.a. To date, no cost benefit analysis, strategic environmental assessment or regulatory impact analysis has been carried out to justify these enormous costs. It should not be left to community groups to point this out.