The annual Coilte Enterprise report for 2010 made for interesting reading. It reveals the extent of the group’s ventures and interests in industries outside of forestry.
Notably, there’s the wind energy aspect. In 2010, Coilte reports it secured planning permission for sites in Cloosh Valley in County Galway and Raheenleagh in County Wicklow. And, simultaneously, the organization was in advanced stages of working through planning application for additional wind farms in six counties. Such activity supports a ‘sales pipeline of windfarm sites’, which in 2010 included a holding in the Garvagh Glebe wind farm project in Leitrim, sold to the ESB.
With vast tracts of land under its control (some 7% of the republic), it’s no surprise that Coilte management should seek to exploit some of the revenue potential of some of its more windswept holdings. But strictly speaking their ideological blending of forestry and wind-turbines -along environmental and energy lines- conceals a mismatch, that depends entirely on an expediency necessitated and perhaps legitimized for some by climate and broader funding challenges. Whatever way you green it up, forests and wind-turbines are, strictly speaking, distinct.
So it is interesting then to ask whether there now exists a practice of land acquisition, ostensibly for forestry needs, which may in fact be used for wind generation at a later stage? Such a practice, in ongoing land transactions, might allow for cheaper acquisition of land, and avoid preplanning objections to vendors concerning the often contentious environmental issues associated with potential turbine installation and operation.
This of course would be all very well for purchasing wind farm sites, but ultimately leads to a sense of distrust in environmental projects that environmentalists in Ireland could well do without. A little clarity on this matter in the 2011 report would be much welcomed.
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