A massive €30m solar farm proposed for a site at Knock, Roscrea, has the potential to split a community over whether it should go ahead or not.
Both sides outlined their positions at a sometimes tense and acrimonious public consultation meeting in the Knock village community centre in the old schoolhouse this week.
There was clear division over who, if anybody should benefit from the plan by British-based Island Green Power to develop a 148-acre site at Leonard's Bog, Derrymore, and why that particular site had been chosen. The site is approximately 50 times the size of Semple Stadium or Croke Park and would generate enough electricity to power 5,000 homes.
Plans by the company to make contributions to schools and sports club, as well as to Knock Community Centre, were shot down, with one local claiming it was “bribery”. Another said the school earmarked for a contribution of €40,000 was not the local school and “got enough already”. Others said the sports clubs were in Roscrea and not in Knock, while more questioned why the local schoolhouse community centre would need funding of €20,000.
Those against, maintained they had been let down badly by the powers that be regarding the development of wind turbines at Monahincha and the building of the M7 through Knock, with allegations of planning guidelines not being followed and work not finished off to the promised standard.
“The roads and the wind turbines are fresh in our minds. We have no confidence in the planning process,” the meeting was told.
Ian Lawrie, managing director of Island Green Power, was at pains to point out his company's track record in building similar projects in the UK, while landowners Kevin and Denise Leonard defended their decision to allow their land be used on the basis of green energy and that it was an “ideal site” which was already surrounded by turbines.
After the meeting, Paula Carey, spokeswoman for the objectors, told The Tipperary Star: “I am not happy with the responses. We are being disproportionately targeted. We have a battle on our hands.”