Major windfarm developer stalls Midlands plans
Windfarm developer Mainstream has announced that it is postponing its planning application to construct windfarms in the midlands for almost a year.
The firm says it is putting back its planning application until late 2015, rather than 2014 as planned, as it wants to “realign” the project with the publication of the government’s Special Environment Assessment (SEA).
Speaking at a press briefing in Tullamore today (Thursday), Mainstream’s development manager for Ireland Diarmuid Twomeny said the firm has decided not to “run ahead” with the project. He added that it was in Mainstream’s long term interest to wait until the review of the current planning guidelines and SEA are published.
Mainstream says its decision to postpone applying for planning permission for nine months means that all going well the company will be in a position to start exporting electricity to the UK market by late 2018. The firm has signed option agreements with 500 landowners across seven counties in the midlands and say that it expects 25% of the land earmarked to be deemed unsuitable by planners for environmental reasons. If given the go ahead by planners, Mainstream says its project will create at least 3,000 jobs at the construction stage and a further 500 full time maintenance jobs when up and running.
Responding to claims by opponents that the firm should not be exporting wind energy to the UK, Mainstream’s executive director Andy Kinsella pointed to the large exports in the agri-food industry. He also noted that Ireland will have met its renewable energy targets by 2020 and that the firm was “not robbing Peter to pay Paul. We do not want to eat into Ireland’s energy needs. This will create additional revenue for regional communities,” he said.
Mainstream Renewable Power is planning a 5,000MWs 'Energy Bridge’ wind park in the midlands.
In all, it’s expected that 400 turbines will be erected across six counties, Offaly, Laois, Meath, Kildare, Westmeath and Tipperary, with Westmeath earmarked for an estimated 40 turbines.