Lighting at unused business park 'a total waste of cash'
The lights are on but there is no-one at home in a midlands industrial estate.
For 15 hours a day for the last five years, dozens of street lights illuminate Portlaoise Business and Technology Park.
But while the roadways are built, the light has fallen only on some 40 acres of landscaped greenery.
Now a former councillor has blasted the excessive waste at a time when Laois County Council is facing difficulties paying for its existing street lamps in towns and villages around the county and there's a threat that some may have to be switched off.
Michael Moloney, a brother of junior health minister John Moloney, says that the lights are on 365 days of the year and have been wasting electricity since shortly after the site was opened some five years ago.
"As a councillor I brought this up on numerous occasions but no one seemed the slightest bit interested," he said.
"There are three units actually built in the 40-acre park, two are empty with one unit open at the front of the site - away from 90 per cent of the street lights," he added.
In a Dail reply some weeks ago the Minister for Enterprise Mary Coughlan stated that only one prospective business group visited Laois last year with a view to setting up in the Park and a total of just 30 parties have looked at the Park since 2003.
The busiest year was back in 2005 when seven potential foreign investors visited the county, the Dail was told.
"The fact that the lights are on year in, year out illustrates the mentality in the protected state sector," Michael Moloney claims.
He added that during his time as a councillor, the local authority management made a presentation to the elected members outlining the steps it had taken to make the Council more green and efficient.
"After the presentation the members had their say, and when it came to my turn just after 3pm in the afternoon I invited all to leave their seats and accompany me to the entrance of County Hall so they could view 14 lights shining brightly under the external canopy at the entrance to the building on a bright summer's day."
"As you can expect this observation did not go down well and these same lights were on for 18 hours per day during the Christmas holiday closed period just gone.
"It underlines the chronic waste and mismanagement that occurs in local government," he added.