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Masked gunmen order workers off wind farm site

Workmen removing the temporary cabins from the Alexander windfarm site outside Carrickmore, after threats were made to staff by armed masked men. MC 3

Cranes remove temporary cabins from the Gortfinbar wind farm site outside Carrickmore on Friday, after threats were made to staff on Thursday evening.

AN OMAGH engineering firm has been forced to abandon work on a wind farm project outside Carrickmore after masked gunmen visited the site on Thursday evening.

The two men are understood to have driven into the work site off the Whitebridge Road at Gortfinbar shortly after 5pm.

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One man wearing a balaclava and brandishing a gun emerged from the vehicle and burst into the site office, ordering the employees from Alexander Civil Engineering to vacate the site within 24 hours and not return.

It’s understood that as the masked pair drove from the site, they stopped to issue a further threat against the local man who owns the land on which the wind farm is to be constructed.

He was told to get the workers off the location, which lies three miles from Carrickmore.

On Friday cranes were on the site removing plant machinery and the temporary structures belonging to Alexander.

It’s understood that engineers had been on site since the start of September.

Senior management at the Omagh company have declined to comment on the nature of threat against its staff.

However, the PSNI has confirmed that detectives are now investigating the incident.

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A number of wind turbines already populate the area near the new Gortfinbar wind farm.

A number of wind turbines already populate the area near the new Gortfinbar wind farm. (Photos: Michael Cullen)

The Tyrone Herald understands that Doreen Walker is the woman behind the new wind farm at Gortfinbar.

It’s believed she was in the locality when Thursday’s threat was issued.

Ms Walker has already established a series of wind farms around Co Tyrone, including one at Screggagh, near Fintona.

In January, a £2million 80 metre turbine collapsed at the site in a high profile incident.

CONDEMNED

The threat has been condemned by local Sinn Féin councillor Sean Donnelly, who owns farmland next to the site.

“I condemn this in the strongest possible terms. I think it is a total disgrace,” said the councillor.

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Cllr Sean Donnelly.

“I have no objection to the work that is going on and I would like to see Alexander’s workforce back on site to finish the wind farm.

“Alexander have been in business for more than 40 years. They employ a lot of people from right across the community, some of whom I regularly had been chatting to on the lane,” continued the councillor.

“It’s sad to think that after putting up wind farms for a number of years, they come to Gortfinbar only to be told to leave the site. It’s totally unacceptable.”

It’s understood that no group has claimed responsibility for the threat.

“What is concerning is that that they haven’t provided a reason for making the threat,” said Cllr Donnelly. “It’s not clear whether they were paramilitaries or bully boys.”

A number of wind farms already populate the skyline near the Gortfinbar site, including the Crockagarron wind farm, which contains six turbines,

“I find the whole thing baffling,” added the councillor. “People are asking why after wind farms going up for 15-20 years around the area, why is this happening now?”

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