THE prospect that Clare may not have the infrastructure in place to take on offshore windfarm contracts was raised at the most recent West Clare Municipal District meeting.
Councillor Ian Lynch proposed on May 3 that West Clare MD invite developers such as Simplify Blue Group to give a presentation to the members on the anticipated infrastructural requirements.
There should, he said, be a specific focus on harbour developments, for maximisation of the project’s potential in the community.
Councillor Lynch went against his own motion to illustrate that Clare is moving towards the possibility of these contracts at a far slower rate than needed, which will send investors to Kerry or Galway.
He continued that he believes the starting point for moving forward with Clare’s offshore potential is to put the question out to the public, not discussing it as though the contracts are already set in stone while no preparation is done.
He said: “You can see it from North Clare, all along the estuary, there are some excellent ideas surrounding the windfarm industry.
“A public consultation, even online, would give us the suggestions we need. The information there will lead our plan going forward with developers, achieving a sustainable product that will be there for a long time.
“There’s no point developing windfarms if there isn’t something going back into the community.”
Councillor Lynch went on to address the point that there are no appropriate ports in Clare for such work to begin, because Doolin is catered mostly to ferries and thus is extremely busy, while others like Carrigaholt and Cappa are not as accessible as they would need to be.
Because of this, he stated that the opportunity for a massive influx of income and infrastructural improvement will pass over Clare very quickly if the council is not ready for it; Cathaoirleach Cillian Murphy agreed whole-heartedly with the sentiment.
Councillor Murphy added, “In my own personal view, we’re on the back foot already. We need to be looking at how to make the piers in Cappa and Carrigaholt suitable for the vessels involved, because if we can’t look after their size, they’ll go somewhere else.
“We need to position ourselves so that the industry looks at us as the best option. However, if we don’t know the facts and the requirements of the community, we may be chasing a dream.”
This comes after statements from Councillor Murphy at the previous MD meeting that such a project being situated in Clare would be even more of a benefit for local economy than Moneypoint was, with each of the two proposed projects (with Shell and Simply Blue, and the ESB) aiming to bring in €7 to €9 million annually.