Bord na Móna has published the draft plans for its new Ballydermot 50-turbine wind farm which, if successful, would be the largest in the country.
Standing at a maximum blade tip height of 220 metres, the development would have the capacity to power over 150,000 homes a year and would occupy approximately five per cent of the land contained in Bord na Móna’s Ballydermot Bog Group in east Offaly and nortwest Kildare, an area of c.5,580 hectares (nearly 14,000 acres).
The development is to become the third wind farm in the area alongside the operational Mountlucas Wind Farm and Cloncreen Wind Farm, which is due to enter commercial operation in the final quarter of 2022.
150-200 jobs would be created at the peak of construction, and it is envisaged that an annual Community Benefit Fund will be set up for the proposed Ballydermot Wind Farm once the project is operational.
This would include a Community Gain Scheme which would provide funding to local community and not-for-profit organisations, and a Near Neighbour Fund which would provide an annual electricity contribution and once off support to carry out energy efficiency measures and/or education support to residents within a prescribed distance of a turbine.
Bord na Móna is currently seeking feedback from the local community on this draft layout. Additionally, subject to COVID-19 restrictions, the company intends to hold Community Engagement Clinics in the locality in July and August and the project’s Community Liaison Officers will be calling to homes in the vicinity of the proposed development in the coming weeks to provide them with information on the draft layout.
Local Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley has said that a new wind farm being proposed in counties Offaly and Kildare must not impact adversely on residents in the areas of Edenderry, Clonbullogue, Rathangan, Allenwood and Ticknevin, which are located within 1km of the planned development.
“The large Windfarm proposed by Bord Na Móna must not impact adversely on residents in the Edenderry, Clonbullogue and Ticknevin areas,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the removal of the two-kilometre exclusion zone for wind turbines from villages by Offaly County Council two weeks ago does not help matters.”
The zone’s removal had been sought by the chief executive of Offaly County Council after submissions were received from a number of national authorities, including the Office of the Planning Regulator.
Removal of the distance was also sought by companies involved in the sector including Bord na Móna, Coillte, RWE Renewables, Galetech, Statkraft Ireland and a representative group for the industry, the Irish Wind Energy Association.
Deputy Stanley continued:
“If reports are correct that fifty giant turbines are planned with a height of over seven hundred feet, it will have a huge impact on local residents.
“Bord Na Móna need to take this into consideration and engage fully with the local communities and only carry out developments in proper locations and on a scale that’s in line with good planning.”
He said that north Offaly cannot be expected to take all the major wind farms in the State, and that the solution of wind energy for renewable energy needs must “be balanced with the other needs of local populations.”
“Unfortunately, numerous wind farms continue to be developed without any proper guidelines from Government, never mind regulations.
“Successive Ministers have promised and failed to bring forward new ones over the past ten years and we continue to have outdated ones that were designed for turbines under 50 metres in height.
“I have brought forward two separate Bills to the Dáil to set out regulations for wind farm developments. This legislation would protect local communities with proper set back distances, while allowing sensitively located windfarms to be developed. Legislation like this needs the support of other parties to get it through the Dáil.
“I will be making representation to Bord Na Móna Management regarding the proposed development and urging them to give full consideration to local residents,” he finished.
Members of the local community who wish to submit feedback on the proposed development can do so by Monday 30 August via the online questionnaire at www.ballydermotwindfarm.ie, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to Ballydermot Wind Farm, Bord na Móna, Main Street, Newbridge, Co. Kildare W12 XR59.
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