Wicklow County Tourism has objected to a huge offshore windfarm development off the Wicklow coast and also urges the public to lodge their objections before the project’s Public Consultation deadline on Friday (June 28).
The development would consist of 145 turbines on the Kish and Bray Banks in the Irish Sea, 10 km off the coast of Dublin and Wicklow. The application proposes that each turbine will be up to 160m in height from sea level to blade tip, three times higher than Liberty Hall in Dublin.
A private company, Saorgus Energy Ltd, has lodged an application with the Department of Environment, for a Foreshore Lease to construct the massive windfarm, which would be one of the largest in the world if it receives permission.
Wicklow County Tourism is objecting to the application for Dublin Array on the grounds ‘of its size and proximity to the coast’ and ‘ the serious detrimental impact’ it will have on the natural beauty of the Wicklow coast.
Frederic Verdier, Tourism Development Officer for Wicklow County Tourism Ltd says, ‘There are three main reasons for our objection. Firstly from a visibility standpoint this development will be right in your face. There are no other countries in Europe which would allow a development of this scale. Secondly, all the electricity generated from the windfarm will be exclusively for the UK. Ireland has met its targets for Renewable Energy so we don’t need the windfarm. The UK wouldn’t have this development on their coastline so why should Ireland allow one on its coastline when it will only serve the UK.
‘Thirdly, what sort of impact will the turbines have on Wicklow’s natural heritage assets such as near shore shallow sandbanks, and marine wildlife protected under EU environmental legislation.’
According to Saorgus Energy Ltd. the project has a capacity potential in excess of 520 MW, enough to supply in excess of 450,000 homes with electricity. The company states ‘the power generated will be available to help meet Ireland’s energy needs and meet its mandatory environmental targets. Alternatively, it can be exported to the United Kingdom.’
It’s estimated that the whole project will cost €2 billion and create 600 jobs during the construction stage, and a further 250 full-time jobs once the farm is complete. Fred, however, says there are no guarantees that Wicklow would actually benefit on the jobs front.
‘We don’t know that it will create jobs for people residing in Wicklow. Once it is built the windfarm will be outsourced elsewhere and they will more than likely bring in their own workforce.’
Fred also argues that the proposed ‘Array’ windfarm, if it gets the go ahead, will prove a particular eyesore when combined with the development of the Arklow Bank windfarm and the Codling Wind Park.
‘In total these developments will involve 565 turbines and cover a total area of 187km2. They will fence in and industrialise the entire coastline, significantly altering the character and quality of all the coastal ‘views and prospects’ listed for protection in the Wicklow County Development Plan. The danger to tourism is unquantifiable.
‘Over 400 turbines will be visible from Bray Head and 420 turbines will be visible from the prime tourist attraction of Brittas Bay.’
The Wicklow County Tourism objection to the windfarm also stressed that technological developments mean that ‘large scale, near shore windfarms will soon be a thing of the past’.
Fred warns, ‘Development which degrades our coastline cannot be deemed to be sustainable. Other EU countries are protecting their coastlines. Ireland must do likewise.’