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Windfarm could power 11,000 homes

By Peter O’Connell

A PROPOSED windfarm extension in Kilmaley parish could power up to 11,000 homes nationwide, if a joint ESB Wind Development Ltd/Coillte application is successful.

Details relating to the proposed extension to the Boolynagleragh windfarm will be outlined at a public information event in Kilmaley GAA Club from 3pm to 8pm next Tuesday. ESB Wind Development Ltd, in conjunction with Coillte, will host the event.

“The proposed windfarm will potentially generate enough electricity to power over 11,000 homes,” Wind Development Ltd and Coillte stated in a joint statement.

“ESB International is preparing the Environmental Impact Statement, as well as the planning application for the proposal. Representatives from ESB Wind Development and Coillte will be present to provide information and answer any queries regarding the proposed windfarm,” the statement added.

On Wednesday, Stephen Cosgrove of ESB International said it could take more than two years for electricity to be generated on the site, if planning permission is approved.

“It depends how long the planning permission process takes. It could take up to a year and a half. It’s that broad. It will be probably 2016 before you see power coming off the site,” he said.

“It really is as long as a piece of string. We have another site that was granted permission two years ago and it hasn’t started yet. It’s down to the grid connection,” Mr Cosgrove added.

This week, Clare Labour TD Michael McNamara said he backed An Bord Pleanála’s decision not to give permission to a large windfarm in the Doonbeg parish.

“The recent decision of An Bord Pleanála to refuse planning permission for what it called ‘an industrial scale’ €200m windfarm near Doonbeg is reassuring. It proves that the responsible State agency will not allow inappropriate development in a prime tourist location.

“The plan was to build 45 turbines to a height of 400ft – more than twice the height of Liberty Hall in Dublin. Any benefit that might have accrued would have been more than offset by the visual impact on the landscape, reduction in the quality of people’s lives, devaluation of property and a wholly negative impact on tourism,” Deputy McNamara claimed.

He said Energy Minister, Pat Rabbitte, has confirmed there will be structured public consultation on wind-export projects before any decisions are made.

“The development of windfarms is key to the development of a sustainable energy market. However, there have been understandable local concerns about the size and scale of these developments. I have raised their concerns with Minister Rabbitte on a number of occasions and therefore welcome the fresh commitment given by him this week to approach this sensitive issue in a fair and sensible manner,” Deputy McNamara said.

“In a speech to the Wind Energy Association in Galway this Thursday, the minister has strongly reiterated his plan to put in place a national renewable energy export policy and planning framework.

It will guide An Bord Pleanála when considering any proposals of a significant scale for wind energy export projects. The proposed large-scale windfarms intending to export therefore must await the putting in place of this framework, which will be underpinned by a Strategic Environmental Assessment,” he added.

Deputy McNamara noted that windfarm developments can be divisive in communities.

“I welcome Minister Rabbitte’s commitment to addressing the various issues around wind-export projects, his acknowledgement of the difficulties the issue has visited upon some local communities and his reassurance to solving those difficulties through the establishment of a national planning framework for this significant economic project,” Deputy McNamara said.

The Boolynagleragh, Kilmaley proposal is one of two windfarms in the pipeline for West Clare. On October 4, Clare County Council received an extension of duration application in relation to the possible erection of six wind turbines in Cahermurphy, Kilmihil, along with a 40m wind-monitoring mast and a control house.

The original application for the proposed Cahermurphy windfarm was submitted on October 16, 2003 but planning was refused on July 7, 2004.

In 2003, Fine Gael TD Pat Breen and An Taisce submitted representations, while Doolough Protection Group submitted one of four submissions.

Clare County Council received another application in March 2009 for an extension of duration of an appeal. The most recent application for the Cahermurphy windfarm was received by Clare County Council last week and a decision is due on November 28 next. The specific application relates to an extension of the period of planning permission for the windfarm.

On Wednesday, the current planning file had yet to have a submission added to it. Submissions can be received by Clare County Council up until early November.

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