Offaly farmers could reap millions from wind turbines

Some Offaly farmers stand to reap millions from wind blowing through their land under plans to export wind energy from the Midlands to Britain.

Some Offaly farmers stand to reap millions from wind blowing through their land under plans to export wind energy from the Midlands to Britain.

It is understood that a farmer with one turbine on his land could earn up to €25,000 a year over 30 years. Last week the Government signed a deal with Britain that would allow wind power to be exported across the Irish sea. The news is sure to be a boost for farmers in Offaly who have learned how much they will earn from the agreement.

Element Power have been holding talks and doing deals with farmers since late year. Laois Cllr Tom Mulhall has been a party too some of the discussions.

He said the company met with 50 local farmers since Christmas. Talks have been held with individual farmers since then and it is now understood that deals could be done for turbines on land owned by up to 16 farmers.

Cllr Mulhall said that the Vicarstown Fisherstown area was suitable for up to 20 turbines. He added that the company could pay between €18,000 - €25,000 annually to farmers under a 30 year contract for allowing turbines to be located on their farms.

Cllr Mulhall welcomed the possibility of windfarms in Laois and the jobs it would create in the construction phase between 2014 and 2017.

The Fine Gael councillor for the area said the company had also held a number of meetings with Laois County Council’s county manager, Mr Peter Carey. Cllr Mulhall expected that the council could stand to gain finanancially from the turbines through rates and development levies.

Laois Offaly TD Charlie Flanagan deal signed by Minister Pat Rabbitte.

“Offaly and Laois in particular are primed to benefit from this agreement. There are a number of major wind farm operators who have already committed to locating in the Midlands and this agreement will allow these projects to proceed in time”

He said there are a number of technical and legislative hurdles to negotiate but the Government is determined to reach an intergovernmental agreement with the UK on energy trading.

“This will see considerable direct benefits for Laois and Offaly. I will remain in contact with the various interest groups to ensure that the Midlands can maximise its potential from this industry which, if harnessed correctly, can provide significant job opportunities.”