Co-operative set to build the largest community owned wind-farm development in Ireland and aims to create 300 jobs during the construction phase.
Clare County Council has given planning permission to West Clare Renewable Energy (WCRE) to construct 28 3MW wind turbines on Mount Callan, a 391-metre high mountain located between Ennis and Miltown Malbay.
WCRE comprises West Clare Renewables and 30 farm families who collectively own 3,000 acres of primarily upland properties on Mount Callan.
The wind-farm project will have a capacity to generate enough electricity to power every home and business in Co Clare, as well as meeting the Limerick Clare Energy Agency’s 2010 targets for emissions reductions and renewable energy production, according to WCRE.
The scheme also predicts it will reduce carbon emissions over its lifetime by a 4,400,000 tonnes.
Commenting on receiving planning approval for the project, WCRE chairman and Clare-based entrepreneur Padraig Howard said Mount Callan poses the perfect combination of wind resources, transmission lines and available land for wind farms.
“Mount Callan has long been associated with energy production and for decades supplied peat to power stations in the region. In more recent times large-scale commercial forestry had become the energy crop of choice on the mountain.”
He added that Clare has the potential to create 10,000 jobs in the renewable energy area by 2020.
“We need to harness our renewable resources and re-invent our economy or we risk been left behind in this area. We have significant advantages over other counties in that we have the strongest and most robust electricity grid infrastructure in the country yet we haven’t to date made much progress in taking advantage of the grid system that we have.
“Other counties such as Kerry, Cork and Donegal are racing ahead and Clare has significant ground to make up if we are to at least maintain our currently position as an energy producer for the region and the country,” said Howard.
Local landowner John Talty said the wind-farm project will ensure the economic sustainability of the local community and wider economy for the next 30 years at least.
“We are excited and optimistic for the future and the added benefits that this project can bring to the local economy. We would like to build on this decision to attract spin-off investment into towns such as Miltown Malbay, Ennistymon , Kilrush and Ennis,” added Talty.