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Consultation begins on proposed South East Clare windfarm

PRE-PLANNING consultation has begun in South East Clare as a German renewable energy company prepares to lodge an application for an eight-turbine windfarm, early next year.

RWE Renewables Ireland Limited (RWE), which describes itself as one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies, launched an eight-week pre-planning consultation exercise at the start of this month. It says that feedback received from residents and stakeholders – whom it aims to meet virtually while Level 5 restrictions continue – will inform the design of the windfarm, proposed for a 320-hectare site 6km south west of Killaloe and 1.5km north of Bridgetown.

As a mandatory element of windfarm projects, RWE will administer a community fund in the event of securing planning permission from Clare County Council, a figure which could range from €168,000 to €288,000 per annum for 15 years. A brochure on the project also outlines the potential for community shared ownership. It details the creation of up to 70 jobs during the construction of the 180m high turbines. Rates income for Clare could run to €1m annually.

Environmental Impact Studies (EIS) have begun within the area at Fahy Beg, Fahy More North, Ballymoloney and Ballyknavin townlands.

“We are hoping that when Covid restrictions ease we’ll be able to meet people face-to-face,” a company spokesperson told The Champion. “We are at the very early stages of pre-planning consultation and we’re looking for ideas on what people would like to see. Steps could be taken to encourage rewilding or pollinator areas. We’ve already had an inquiry about the possibility of creating a bridle path. All of this is open for discussion.”

The spokesperson also said the proposed facility, which will have a 28 to 48MW generation capacity, will meet the requirements of new draft guidelines on wind energy development. “We will be working to the new guidelines, even though they’re not yet set in stone,” the spokesperson said. “We’ll be eliminating things like shadow flicker and have technology to switch off a turbine at certain times of day to prevent it. It can be done automatically in a matter of seconds. We’re also in the process of noise monitoring at the moment with levels set to be around 40db, the equivalent of a domestic fridge.”

Currently, an information booklet is being distributed locally. The RWE team will facilitate Skype or other online calls where required. The dedicated Fahy Beg Project phone number is 087-1519219, the email address is fahybeg@rwe.com and the postal address is Fahy Beg Wind Farm, Desart House, Lower New Street, Kilkenny, R95 H488. The website is Rwe.com/fahybeg.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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