Wednesday, May 22, 2024

AirNav Ireland and Shannon airport object to 50MW windfarm

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An Bord Pleanála has received 74 third-party submissions with the bulk opposed to the project in south-east Clare

The Limerick firm Ballycar Green Energy has an application before An Bord Pleanála for a 12 turbine windfarm to be located 3km north-west of Limerick city.

To date, An Bord Pleanála has received 74 third-party submissions with the bulk opposed to the windfarm, which is proposed for a 105-hectare site neighbouring the townland of Ballycar, north of Meelick in south-east Clare.

A planning report lodged with the application states that the proposed windfarm “will directly assist in achieving national targets for energy from renewable energy and from renewable resources, and with reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy production”.

The tip height of the wind turbines is to be 518 feet and the scheme is facing objections from Shannon Airport and AirNav Ireland due to the windfarm’s proximity to the Woodcock Hill radar station in Clare.

AirNav Ireland provides air traffic management and related services within the 451,000 km sq of airspace controlled by Ireland, and employs over 200 air-traffic controllers in Dublin, Cork and Shannon, plus 50 radio officers in Ballygirreen, Co Clare to ensure the safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic.

In an objection against the windfarm, Charlie O’Loughlin, the manager of surveillance M&E systems with AirNav Ireland, told the planning appeals board that the semi-state agency opposes the location because the development would result in a reduction in the level of safety in the Shannon en-route and Dublin air traffic control centres which depend on the Woodcock Hill radar station.

Mr O’Loughlin contends that the proposed windfarm “would degrade the performance” of the Woodcock Hill radar system. He said that due to the proximity and the scale of the proposed development, there are no credible and implementable mitigation measures to eliminate the radar beam deflections, reflections and shadowing from the proposed turbines.

The AirNav manager also states that the development “would compromise the Woodcock Hill radar’s compliance with EU mandated surveillance performance criteria”.

In a separate objection Paul Hennessy, Shannon airport’s safety, compliance and environment manager, told An Bord Pleanála that the airport objects to the windfarm as no mitigation measures can prevent it having an impact on the Woodcock Hill radar.

Senator Timmy Dooley, Fianna Fail’s spokesman on climate action, has made a submission stating that the proposed windfarm site is in an area widely used for recreational purposes by urban dwellers who wish to enjoy nature and the countryside. The Clare-based senator claims “this development would have a terrible impact on such enjoyment”.

In a separate submission, his Fianna Fail colleague and Clare TD Cathal Crowe claims the height of the turbines is excessive.

He said: “Indeed, if they were to be built, they would be among the tallest turbines in all of Ireland and tower over much of the surrounding landscape.”

Mary, James and Noel Fitzgerald are members of a farm family from Oatfield, Sixmilebridge who are objecting. They have told the appeals board they have “serious concerns” about the effect it will have on the family farm.

A spokeswoman for Ballycar Green Energy said that the company notes AirNav’s submission “and will demonstrate that all safety and operational requirements will be adhered to and will provide technical information to further confirm and support this to An Bord Pleanála and AirNav Ireland”.

She said that the proposed project “would play a central role in Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon economy by 2050″, as it has the potential to displace almost two million tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime “and will provide the capacity to power more than 30,000 homes.”

She pointed out Ballycar Green Energy “will generate a Community Benefit Fund estimated at €3.75 million over the first 15 years of operation which could be utilised on sustainable initiatives for the growth and development of the local area”.

The spokeswoman added: “The Ballycar wind farm proposal is designed in compliance with all relevant regulations and guidelines, ensuring minimal environmental impact while maximising energy output.”

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