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Landowners claim energy firm not honouring deal

Protesting landowners in west Waterford have claimed an energy company is not honouring "previously-agreed conditions" over a planned wind farm.

Nine landowners in Ballyduff, who staged a protest last week, claim that under a 2003 agreement with a company called Barranafaddock Sustainable Electricity, they were entitled to €1,000 per annum from the year of planning permission in 2005 to the time of construction next June.

The money effectively represents compensation for missing out on an €18,000 per annum rent windfall which will be paid to six owners on whose land the 11 planned turbines will be erected.

The protestors say global energy development company, Element Power, which now manages the project, is ignoring previously-agreed terms.

A further 10 landowners are also seeking compensation over alleged denial of turbary (turf cutting) rights on 300 acres.

They say the figure in question amounts to about €3,000 per year for up to 25 years, comprising "half the estimated €20,000 annual output of each of three turbines", divided amongst them.

Both sets of complainants rejected an offer of a one-off payment of €40,000 between all 19 from Element Power last week.

However, a spokesman for Element Power said: "The planning authority determines the final location of wind turbines and related infrastructure, not Element Power."

He insisted Element Power "has paid all monies due to landowners in this project" and that "any suggestion to the contrary has no basis whatsoever in fact or in law".

At last Thursday’s protest which was attended by local councillors and IFA west Waterford representative John Barry, it was further claimed that recently commenced construction work led to a barrier being imposed across a traditional right-of-way.

Speaking on behalf of the group, local farmer Sean Harris said road construction and drainage works were being undertaken without landowners’ consent on lands where the farmers had rights and had caused rights-of-way infringements.

He said contractors continue to ignore requests not to enter land until the contentious issues were resolved.