A second major wind farm project has been mooted for South Roscommon this week in parts of Taughmaconnell and Brideswell which backers claim could create over 600 jobs during construction.
The proposed development would see 19 wind turbines installed in the townlands of Clooncaltry, Feacle, Milltown, Skeavally, Tawnagh, Tobermacloughlin and Boleyduff, close to Taughmaconnell, along with Cam in Brideswell and Cuilleenolagh, near Dysart.
Cavan-based Galetech Energy Ltd recently submitted plans to Roscommon County Council for the second phase of the Seven Hills Wind Farm, 19 wind turbines in nine separate townlands as part of €76 million investment. This comes after the company applied last year for permission to construct an €80 million 16 wind turbine project close to the Dysart village, plans which provoked major opposition in the area and generated over 400 submissions during the planning process.
Further information has been sought by the local authority in relation to the Dysart plans and it’s understood the company will submit the documentation over the next two weeks.
Speaking to the Westmeath Independent this week, Darren Sherry from Galetech Energy stressed that phase two is a very good project and a myriad of studies have been completed on the proposals since they first began research back in 2008. “It is properly planned,” he underlined. “No houses at all will be within 500 metres of the turbines,” Mr Sherry added, pointing that at 135 metres high, the turbines will smaller than some already erected in Ireland, for example at Lisheen, and are also lower than those planned for Mount Lucas in Offaly.
The second phase of the development will produce enough electricity to power 19,000 homes and involves 50 separate landowners in the area. Backers also estimate that in excess of 600 people, 14 employees per megawatt according to international guidelines for wind farms would be employed during the construction phase of the Taughmaconnell project with 19 permanent staff in place once the turbines are in place. Galetech say to between 60 to 100 of those will be local jobs. Another 500 construction jobs could be created in the Dysart phase of the project and a combined total for both phases would be over 1,100.
“It’s most likely to be 2013 or 2014 for a projected construction,” Mr Sherry commented of the first and second phases of Seven Hills Wind Farm. “Each phase will take about nine to ten month to complete,” he said.
However, The South Roscommon Wind Farm Action Group, set up in the wake of the plans being lodged last year for the Dysart phase of the project, vowed this week to fight the latest plans.
PRO Albert Van Beek, who lives close to Dysart, said if this latest phase of the wind farm project goes ahead people in the village and other areas of South Roscommon will be surrounded by wind turbines, 35 in total between the two phases. Everyone has a free choice to make up their mind on the plans, he said, but the group is available to facilitate people who want to make submissions to the council in relation to the development.
With this in mind, The South Roscommon Wind Farm Action Group will hold information meetings in Dysart Community Centre on Sunday, August 14 next from 2pm and from 6pm to 8pm, in Cam Community Centre on Monday, August 15 from 7pm-10pm and in Taughmaconnell Community Centre from 7pm to 10pm.
“One of our main objections is when you look at the UK the distance of wind turbines from houses and farms is 2,000 metres and here it’s only 500 metres. It’s a quite a difference, it’s a close community with houses all around,” he said, adding that local people are also worried about the impact to the landscape, water and flora and fauna.
Another big concern is devaluation of properties in the shadow of a large number of wind turbines, Mr Van Beek noted, as is fears about the implications on people who want to build houses on their own land, and what will happen the turbines when they are out of commission in twenty years time or the high voltage power lines needed to transfer the power to the electricity grid.
When asked about the local group’s opposition to the project, Darren Sherry from Galetech Energy Ltd responded by saying that they acknowledge the concerns locally, but he stressed the fact that a huge number of studies and research including an EIS have been completed on the project. He said they have been in regular contact with people living within a kilometre of the proposed turbines and contacts have been left into homes further away.
“We are 100% confident the project is safe and ecologically sound and it is designed in line with best international practice,” adding that there are no ill-effects to health with a development like this and no evidence to link wind turbines to health problems. The development fits all national and international criteria, he also stressed, pointing out that a full landscape assessment has been carried out.
A decision is due from Roscommon County Council on phase two of the wind farm plans by September 7 next.
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