Public consultation for a €30 million plan to place seven 118m wind turbines along the entrance to Cork Harbour will begin next week.
The turbines would provide a renewable energy source for four major healthcare manufacturing companies based at the pharmaceutical hub of Ringaskiddy.
The four companies, Centocor, DePuy, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis, are planning to build the turbines on each of their four sites, dotted around the Ringaskiddy peninsula, some 18km southeast of Cork city.
The proposed renewable energy project, announced yesterday, would reduce operations costs for all four companies. The aim is to reduce the carbon footprint of each of the four sites by up to 30 per cent, or up to 22,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
The firms have formed an umbrella group, the Cork Lower Harbour Energy Group, for the purpose of applying for planning permission for the turbines.
An environmental impact statement is due to be completed by the end of the year, together with the planning application.
If a planning decision comes through by next spring, construction could begin late next year, though that timeline is a best-case scenario, said a spokeswoman.
The turbines, of which there would likely be two each on three sites and one on the fourth, would transform the skyline of Cork Harbour. The body of the turbines would stand at 78m, with the blade height reaching a further 40m into the sky.
The high cost of electricity in the State was cited as one reason behind the drive to introduce wind energy. The group claims the project represents the latest initiative by the four companies to cut energy costs.
Finbar Whyte, managing director of GlaxoSmithKline, said the group plans to engage fully with the local community during the planning process. “We will be communicating with all interested parties to ensure that people are as informed as possible about this project,” he said.
IDA Ireland chief executive Barry O’Leary said increased energy efficiency and the use of alternative energy supplies to enhance operational competitiveness were critical elements of the recently published IDA strategy document, Horizon 2020.
A Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment spokesman welcomed the proposal as a clean energy form and a move away from dependency on oil.
The plans will be on display at the National Maritime College, Ringaskiddy, on August 31st between 4pm and 6pm, and on September 1st (7pm-9pm). Evening information sessions will be held in the Commodore Hotel, Cobh, on August 31st (7pm-9pm), and on September 1st (4pm-6pm).