by Alan Jacques
LIMERICK-based Ballycar Green Energy has started pre-planning consultation with the local community over its plans to develop a 12-turbine wind farm near Meelick on the outskirts of Limerick City.
The turbines, which will be located on a 140-hectare site, will have the capacity to power more than 30,000 homes.
This site has been zoned as strategic and acceptable in principle by Clare County Council due to its strategic, regional and national importance as well as the favourable conditions for wind energy generation.
Onshore wind energy projects such as Ballycar Green Energy form a key part of the Government’s plan to enhance clean electricity generation, reduce CO2 emissions, meet Ireland’s environmental targets and to move towards a more secure energy future.
Ballycar Green Energy will work in partnership with local residents to form a committee to oversee the administration of a Community Benefit Fund, estimated at €3.75 million over the first 15 years of the project.
The committee will be established if and when the project completes the planning permission process and it will manage financial payments for projects to support community development, education, recreation, health, social inclusion, heritage and culture.
The project will also support the creation of local employment, in the supply, construction and maintenance sectors. Based on SEAI estimates, this will be in the region of 180 direct and indirect jobs. In addition, Ballycar Green Energy has committed to utilising local suppliers where possible.
Ballycar Green Energy is managed by Irish renewable energy firm Greensource which specialising in the development and management of renewable energy projects.
The community engagement process will include house to house visits, meeting with various stakeholders and stakeholder groups, and regular updates through a range of platforms including the project website: www.ballycargreenenergy.ie