By James Fogarty
A planning application for a wind farm in South Roscommon could be submitted to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) within the next two months. However, the local community remains completely opposed to the development, which is expected to cost approximately €100m
Recently ABP granted the planned Seven Hill Windfarm from Energia and Galetech Energy Developments strategic infrastructure status, meaning that it, rather than the local authority, will decide on the proposal.
The plan for the now up to 20 turbine farm – one fewer than originally proposed – can be viewed at www.sevenhillswindfarm.ie, where a virtual exhibition is available for the public to find out more or engage with the process.
When asked why the number of turbines was reduced, a spokesperson for the project said: “As is usual practice, the initial draft wind farm layout identified the maximum number of turbines for the site to maximise renewable energy generation. Following site investigations, surveys and consultations, the project team have assessed site constraints and have reduced the number of turbines to 20 in the final site layout.” The final layout shows seven wind turbines to the north east of Dysart, and 13 in the Taughmaconnell area, west of Brideswell. The turbines will have a ground to tip height of up to 180 metres with a typical output of 5-6 megawatts. This is enough to supply around 85,000 Irish households with renewable electricity every year, the companies say. The application will also include an electrical substation with a control building and associated equipment.
The companies said that Roscommon County Council will submit a report on the project to ABP as a statutory consultee. Planning application documents will be available to the public both online and at the council offices.
Cllr Tony Ward said he was completely opposed to the windfarm, saying he was very concerned about how it could impact the area’s drinking water supply and turloughs, especially following flooding at Lough Funshinagh.
“I have no issue with turbines being out at sea but I have a huge issue with them being here,” he said. “The Killeglan Springs supplies 80% of the drinking water in South Roscommon, and I would be very concerned that something could happen to that.” Regardless of the companies’ plans, the community was going to continue to fight against the proposal “all the way” as it had done in the past, he added. As well as potential environmental impacts, a wind farm could reduce the value of people’s homes and prevent locals from building houses on family lands in the future, Cllr Ward said.
“I was surprised that this project was resurrected and very surprised to see it back on the agenda again,” the independent councillor said. “The community there does not want this wind farm, and they have said that time and time again.
“I do not have an issue with green energy but this proposal will do untold damage to the area, and that type of damage cannot be reversed.”
The developers said that ecological survey work has been underway since 2018, and the findings have been carefully considered as part of the project design. “We recognise the sensitivity of the local hydrology as part of the local ecosystem and a source of drinking water. A comprehensive hydrological monitoring programme has been undertaken,” they said.