Power to the people — windfarm the way forward?
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The community in north Antrim will be able to plug into the profits of a planned wind farm, it has been claimed.
A spokesman for a not-for-profit company behind the scheme – which could see eight turbines sited on the Antrim Plateau about three and a half miles in land from Torr Head in the Coolnagoppoge area near Ballycastle – says any money generated by producing wind energy will be powered into community schemes.
The spokesman – who lives in the Ballycastle area – told the Times the plan is for local people in rural areas to be able to benefit from wind farms.
At a time when the world is going ‘green’ it is anticipated that wind farms will become more commonplace and the company says it will sell the electricity to the grid and the profits will be ploughed into community and environmental schemes.
The Ballycastle scheme is believed to be one of the first community power schemes of its kind in Northern Ireland.
Said the spokesman: “This is being brought forward by a community interest company called Grassroots Renewables. Several businesspeople are involved. It is a not-for-profit company and there is a commitment to the local community with money raised from selling electricity generated at the wind farm into the National Grid.
“This scheme would be subject to the agreement of landowners and we are really only at the stage of a courtesy letter to public bodies involved.”
It is early days as regards planning permission being secured for the scheme but it wouldn’t be the first wind farm on the Antrim Plateau as the long running facility near Loughgiel is on the western end of the Glens.
However, opinion on wind farms is divided as evidenced when the Coolnagoppoge scheme was raised at a meeting of Moyle District Council.
A Ballycastle councillor has described wind farms as “eyesores”.
Sinn Fein representative Cathal Newcombe told a meeting of Moyle District Council: “Where is the need? They are an eyesore.”
He said such wind farms have a lifespan of a quarter of a century “and when that is up the company walks away and it is left to the Council to take them down.”
The councillor said companies do put up a bond but he claimed the money doesn’t cover the cost of demolition.
But the company spokesman behind the Coolnagoppoge schemesaid they are committed to the community and the environment and that when the turbines come to the end of their life they would be fully dismantled.
Independent councillor Seamus Blaney said he had concerns about the “visual impact” of such turbines.
Council Chairperson, Councillor Madeline Black (SDLP), said she supports the use of wind turbines.
Her party colleague, Councillor Catherine McCambridge, said the Torr Head area was “environmentally sensitive”
A letter to Moyle Council from planners says the proposal involves eight turbines with four three megawatt machines and four two megawatt generators in the Coolnagoppoge area. The application is in the name of Tom Stokes who is the managing director of Belfast-based consultants TSA Planning who are working with the developers.
The planners said: “The Department has recently determined, and it has been accepted by the applicant, that a planning application for the proposal will require to be accompanied by an Environmental Statement.”
7 February 2008
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