THE company behind the 29-turbine Slieve Callan windfarm is offering grants totalling more than €1.5 million to the four communities close to the development, The Clare Champion has learned.
Miltown Malbay, Kilmurry Ibrickane, Kilmaley and Inagh-Kilnamona are each to receive €100,000 of the proposed grants before the end of this year, while the remainder will be paid in instalments for up to 25 years.
The developers committed to provide the funding in their planning application.
Parishes will receive €20,000 a year for the first five years; €10,250 a year for the next 15 years and €5,000 annually for the last five years. Each parish is to receive approximately €378,000 from the developers, adding up to €1.515m.
Public meetings were due to be held in Miltown, Inagh and Quilty on Wednesday night to address how best the money should be spent.
Kilmaley Meitheal (Community Development Group) met on Tuesday night, while Kilmaley GAA Club is to hold a meeting next Monday night at 8pm in their clubhouse, with regard to the proposed grant. Both groups are to work together to decide how the funds should be spent.
When contacted by The Clare Champion on Wednesday, Neil O’Brien of WCRE Windfarm Ltd, who along with Brookfield Renewable Energy Group are the project developers, would not comment.
“At this stage, we are making no comment,” he said, although he did not deny the figures put to him.
Last week, Clare County Council confirmed the receipt of 550 submissions relating to the proposed closure of part of the R474 (Miltown Malbay to Ennis road) for a six-week period from next Monday until May 13 and for up to nine months on various parts of the same road until December.
The road closure is to facilitate the laying of underground cable, which will be connected to the national grid. The cable will be laid from the Slieve Callan windfarm at The Hand to the Tulla Road in Ennis.
Clare County Council had said that the road would be closed from next Monday but The Clare Champion has learned that has now been put on hold and the R474 will remain open next week.
“Clare County Council is awaiting a response from the developer as to how he proposes to address the concerns raised during the public process. The council cannot give further consideration to the Road Opening Application until the developers’ response is submitted,” the council said in a statement, identical to the one they issued last week on this issue.
However, The Clare Champion understands that Clare County Council received a submission from the developer late last week.
“The developer has confirmed to me that they have submitted a reply to Clare County Council relating to the 550 submissions on the proposed road closure. That was submitted last Friday,” Kilmaley business person, Laurence O’Brien confirmed.
The developers are proposing that they will open the road from 7pm until 7am and at weekends.
Mr O’Brien said he was told by Clare County Council on Wednesday morning that the R474 will not be closed from Monday, as had been planned.
“From a phone call I had with Clare County Council this morning [Wednesday], my understanding is that the road will definitely not be closed next week. I was led to believe that it will take time to go through all 550 submissions. There has been no comment from any councillor or from the council, apart from the contact that initiated with the council this morning,” he stated.
Mr O’Brien employs 12 people in his two shops in Kilmaley and fears that the road closure will adversely affect his business.
The proposed cable will connect the Slieve Callan windfarm to the national electricity grid on the Tulla Road in Ennis. The cable will be routed in underground ducts in reinstated trenches, as opposed to going overhead. It is envisaged that Slieve Callan windfarm will provide power capable of supplying almost 40,000 households.
This cable will become the property of Eirgrid once operational and will provide additional capacity for the electricity network in the Slieve Callan hinterland, avoiding the need for another cable in the future.
The Slieve Callan windfarm will have a generation capacity of 72MW, while the developers say they will pay €500,000 annually in rates, which will amount to €12.5m over the lifetime of the windfarm.