THE proposed development of a new wind farm near Bridgetown will result in an average of one truck passing the village every 90 seconds during an eight-hour day, a local lobby group has claimed.
RWE Renewables Ireland has submitted a planning application to construct eight wind turbines with a blade tip height range from 169 metres to 176 metres, a hub height range from 102 to 110 metres and a rotor diameter of 138 meters, the length of a GAA pitch.
It will also involve the construction of a large compound in Roadstone, Ballymena, alterations on the road layout of regional road R466 between O’Briensbridge Cross and Ballymena and excavation of 11 kilometres of road from Ballymena to facilitate the laying of power cables to Ardnacrusha Power Station.
Plans have been submitted for a ten-year construction phase for eight turbines with a 35-year operational life once commissioned with a total output of 38 megawatts.
The Fahybeg Information Group has warned in an information video that this will involve the transportation of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of machinery, cranes, concrete and filling through Bridgetown during the construction phase.
The developer has estimated an average of 150 trucks per day that is a total of 300 trucks passing through Bridgetown daily, which is the equivalent of one truck for every 90 seconds during an eight-hour day, on top of existing traffic.
“The construction phase will include deforestation and destruction of habitats on the slopes of Lackereagh mountain near the village,” the group has claimed.
“Reports say animals will be harmed, birds will be killed, noise will be created. However, the reports say the effects will be negligible and the damage done to the local community will be outweighed by the overall national benefits.”
The group has highlighted reports about environmental protests involving up to 30,000 people opposing the demolition of Lutzerath, a former village in Germany, as RWE plans to expand its coal mine.
It claimed RWE is one of the companies involved in so-called “green-washing” by purchasing carbon credits in the form of forests and renewable energy projects to balance its carbon footprint on paper instead of “cleaning up its act” and to allow it to increase its fossil fuel operations.
The groups stated, “RWE are a German energy conglomerate, Europe’s No. 1 polluter for the last decade. Their mining operations produce a powder coal called lignite, which is one of the most polluting fossil fuels and power their fleet of coal powered plants that are one of the most polluting in the world.
“RWE recently sued the government in the Netherlands for €1.4 billion for loss of earnings because of the forced closure of one of their poisonous lignite power plants.”
Under the Community Benefit Fund, the group said payments under this fund will be made for 12 to 15 years once the Fahybeg Wind Farm is operational.
The RES guidelines state that houses within one kilometre should receive near neighbour compensation of about €10 per week after tax weekly and house within two kilometres will only receive €5 per week after tax for a 12 to 15-year period once the wind farm is operational.
The group pointed out the remaining money will be available within the local community up to a 20 kilometre radius from the wind farm on specific UN sustainable goals relating to climate change and renewable energy.
At current whole sale energy prices averaging at €200 per mega watt hour, the Fahybeg Wind Farm could generate more than €.75 billion during the 35-year time span of the project or even more due to inflation and a possibility of getting a higher price in the open market.
Excluding payments already received, the group stated landowners will collect an estimated €10 million over the operational life of the wind farm, with the potential to earn much more when they are allowed to sell energy to the open market.
A group spokesman said the track record of RWE doesn’t instil confidence as their motivation is “purely profit”.
“As part of the planning application process, RWE has produced a library of environmental reports that state the impact of the wind farm will be negligible.
“However, these reports are paid for by RWE and it is unlikely a report would be produced or submitted if it didn’t lean in their favour.”
The group has urged residents to make a submission to the local planning authority before February 16 when it will decide on whether the wind farm will “irreversibly change the landscape of East Clare until 2068 and possibly beyond”.
As part of its “meaningful consultation” RWE stated it has written to resident on six separate occasions, gone door-to-door, held a drop-in clinic in July 2022, is contactable by phone and email and has met the opposition group chairman on numerous occasions and those who support the wind farm.
“The investment in the local community is expected to be about €30 million over the lifetime of the proposed wind farm. A Community Benefit Fund would also be established, which could deliver up to €3 million in total benefits for local communities in the area.”
“The preferred access route has been selected on the basis on minimising traffic through Bridgetown and any traffic will be confined where possible regional roads.
“In relation to the former village of Lützerath, the local mine is now being temporarily extended due to the security of energy supply crisis in Germany directly related to Russian invasion of Ukraine and Europe’s move away from importing Russian gas.
“The development is part of an overall agreement between the company and national and local Government in Germany and with local residents which has been in place for some time. All original inhabitants of the village left in 2017 most going to a nearby village.
“As part of the agreement RWE has committed to bringing forward its ending of lignite mining in Germany from 2039 to 2030.”