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East Clare wind farm planning application to be lodged in June

Plans for a multimillion Euro East Clare wind farm are to be lodged next month, The Clare Champion has learned. Coillte has confirmed that it is currently finalising an application for 19 turbines on a 750 hectare site, around a-mile-and-a-half from Bodyke, on the slopes of Slieve Bearnagh. The proposal, which will seek 30-year permission for The Carrownagowan Wind Farm, will be lodged directly to An Bórd Pleanála as strategic infrastructure.

“Our project team is targeting a submission date towards the end of June and this will be advertised prior to final submission,” outlined Andy Fox, Community Engagement Manager with Coillte. Mr Fox also noted that a detailed brochure on the project had recently been widely distributed across East Clare, and that consultations were continuing, in line with the restrictions imposed by Covid-19.

The site is described by Coillte as an appropriate location to access the national grid via the substation at Ardnacrusha. The company also notes it is designated as ‘strategic’ in the Clare Wind Energy Strategy.

The Coillte brochure outlines how a community benefit fund, which are mandatory with projects of this nature, could potentially contribute up to €10 million locally, over the lifetime of the project. It also predicts the creation of 100 jobs, during the construction phase of the project, as well as a potential rates contribution to Clare County Council of between €638,400 and €1.3 million.

An Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR), to be submitted with the application, will examine noise, vibration and shadow flicker, as well as the impact on human health, biodiversity, air quality and the landscape. In terms of the environmental benefits, Coillte contends that the project could generate approximately 91 megawatts per hour of renewable energy. “Over the lifetime of the project, 2.8 million tonnes of carbon will be offset,” the document outlines. The blade tip height of the proposed turbines is up to 169 metres and a permanent mast of up to 100 metres is also to be included in the application. A photomontage included in the brochure, illustrates the visibility of the wind farm from up to 10 kilometres away in Feakle and Coillte has previously described the turbines as being visible from Lough Derg.

While the proposed wind farm has been publicised since 2018, local councillor Pat Hayes has reiterated his concerns over a lack of consultation with public representatives. “I’m not opposed to wind farms, in principle, but better protocols around the consultation process are needed,” Councillor Hayes said. “Public representatives in the Killaloe district were never advised in any detail about the plans. We need far more transparency, especially when it comes to the protection of Moylussa, and I don’t think the community funding angle should be used to push this project.”

Coillte’s information brochure said that since 2018, it has been involved in “extensive community engagement” particularly with those living with 2km of a proposed turbine. Mr Fox acknowledged the impact of Covid-19 on the consultation process, but said options were still open. “Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public health restrictions prevent our team from engaging with the community face-to-face,” he said. “However, we are encouraging anyone who wishes to discuss the project in more detail to make contact via the project email (scarriff@coillte.ie) and our team will arrange a call back.”

The organisation has also told The Champion that from Tuesday, June 9, it will make an information resource for residents available on-line at carrownagowanwindfarm.ie. Under the Strategic Infrastructure Act, public submissions can be made to An Bórd Pleanála within the period allowed for the application to be inspected (minimum of six weeks). It is at the discretion of the board to decide on whether or not to hold an oral hearing.