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Proposed wind farm given ‘strategic economic importance’ status

Proposed windfarm given ‘strategic economic importance’ status

Anton McNulty

An Bord Pleanála have ruled that a proposed windfarm in north Mayo whose planning permission will expire at the end of the year constitutes strategic infrastructure development.
Planning permission was granted in 2003 for the erection of 180 wind turbines at Oweninny, Bellacorick, in a joint venture between ESB Wind Development and Bord na Móna. This permission is due to expire this year and the prospective applicants stated that they intend to apply for a time extension.
The site already contains a wind farm consisting of 21 turbines with a capacity of 6.45 MW and it was proposed to revise the plan to have 112 proposed turbines and sought confirmation that the project constituted Strategic Infrastructure Development. Coillte have also proposed to build approximately 50 turbines on nearby land at Cluddaun.
ESB International clarified in a letter that Phase one of the project would compromise the construction of 70-90 MW of wind energy connecting to the existing 110kv substation at Bellacorick. Phase two will compromise the construction of a further 70-90MW of wind energy and will also connect to the same substation.
Phase three will comprise the construction of the balance of 190-230MW of wind energy but is dependent on the implementation of Grid 25 by Eirgrid which will provide a new 400kv substation and transmission system in Mayo in around 2020.
In his assessment, the Senior Planning Inspector with An Bord Pleanála, Robert Ryan stated that the proposed development met the requirements of the Planning and Development Act as it would be of strategic economic importance to the State, ‘due to its scale and to its contribution to the production of electricity and to the security of supply’.
He recommended to the board that this constitutes strategic infrastructure development and the board agreed with his recommendations.

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