A major player in the midlands wind energy project are allowing landowners to back out of option contracts if they prove they were intimidated.
Mainstream spokesperson Diarmuid Twomey says some landowners have already pulled out elsewhere.
“I can categorically say they were intimidated, in the schoolyard, the churchyard. We are not going to hold someone against their will if they are under duress,” he told the Leinster Express.
The company is signing deals in Laois, with about 40 landowners signed up and another ten to go, after a lengthy survey period.
Mainstream are focusing on Stradbally, Luggacurraun, Baunoge and Iry (Mountrath), on private lands marked as preferred for windfarms in the county development plan.
They began holding public information days to display potential sites last week, the first in Clonbullogue. Two Laois days will be held, the first in Timahoe next Wednesday October 2.
Mainstream plan to erect about fifty turbines, 128m tall, in Laois as part of their Energybridge project. North Offaly has the highest number planned, at 150. Overall they plan 400 turbines across Westmeath, Meath, Kildare, Offaly, Laois, Tipperary and Kilkenny, built by 2018. These will supply 1,200mw of the 5,000 mw they will be supplying to the UK grid, but much of that will come from turbines at sea.
Environmental Impact Assessments will run from October until March 2015, followed by planning applications to An Bord Pleanala.
Mr Twomey said a ‘smear campaign’ of lies was being conducted by some anti-turbine groups. “Our purpose with these open days is to get to people who have concerns, give them the facts and allow them to make up their own minds,” he said.