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Wind farm plan in the pipeline for Bottlehill site

A Canadian company has commenced pre-application consultations with An Bord Pleanála with a view to developing a wind farm on part of the mothballed ‘super dump’ at Bottlehill.

Brookfield Renewable (Ireland) Ltd has lodged a proposal, in conjunction with Coillte, with the board for a development consisting of up to 27 wind turbines with associated substation compounds, battery storage units with ancillary and electrical infrastructure at Knockdoorty, Glannasack.

Developed at a cost of €48 million, the Bottlehill landfill facility was initially scheduled to open in 2010.

However, Cork County Council deemed it to be economically unviable due to a surplus of landfill space in Cork, combined with an increase in EU levies on landfill. This left the authority with a massive financial headache with the council shelling thousands of euros each year to maintain the site.

In March of last year the council confirmed discussions were at an advanced stage with Brookfield Renewable to take over a portion of the site for a wind farm. It was one of a number of bids being considered for the site after the council issued a call for proposals through the Office Journal of the European Union.

At the time Louis Duffy, head of the council’s environment directorate, said full details of any development including the number, type and layout of the turbines, would be determined through a public consultation process between local residents, stakeholders and Brookfield Renewable.

It was also understood that Brookfield Renewable had also commenced discussions with adjoining landowners, including Coillte, in relation to potential energy related projects in the wider area outside of the landfill site.

The Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006, provides for applications for permission/approval for specified private and public strategic infrastructure developments to be made directly to the board. These generally relate to major energy, transport, environmental and health projects.

The provisions of the act provide for pre-application consultations and the discretionary scoping of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) prior to the formal lodging of a planning application with An Bord Pleanála.

It is not yet known when a planning application for the wind farm will be formally lodged.

Speaking to The Corkman this week, Mr Duffy said that as such, the authority was a step away from the planning process but would welcome any use of the site that would generate income for the council.

He said the Bottlehill facility was originally designed in such a way that it had a peripheral area away from landfill activity for the development of projects that could work hand in hand with it.

“As such, the wind farm would take up approximately 25% of our site, with the remainder of it on adjacent lands. We invested heavily in infrastructure for waste management at Bottlehill and while we have not yet discussed financial terms for the use of our land, we would welcome a reasonable return from any development there,” said Mr Duffy.

“We would not be going ahead with the project if it did not bring some value for money to the council,” he added.

Mr Duffy said this could be the first of a number of new developments at the Bottlehill site.

“A number of projects have been brought to us. We will see if this wind farm goes ahead without compromising the site before making decisions on progressing any future projects there,” he said.