A PLAN by Spanish energy company Endesa to replace a 40-year-old ESB power plant at Tarbert, Co Kerry, with a smaller more environmentally-friendly natural gas-powered plant will create 500 jobs at peak of construction, a meeting of Kerry County Council heard yesterday.
The meeting heard the new plant, combined with a proposed import terminal and regasification plant also near Tarbert by the Hess corporation, offered huge hope for the local community and the country.
Councillors called for the project to be approved, saying it would benefit both the county and the security of the country’s energy supplies.
Fine Gael councillor Jim Finucane said the project, combined with the Shannon LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal which has received planning approval nearby, offered “hope and confidence to people seeking employment”.
“We welcome this with open arms,” county manager Tom Curran remarked, saying he was disappointed with An Taisce’s indication it would oppose the project.
As with the LNG proposal, the Endesa Ireland 450MW natural gas-fired gas turbine plant has been deemed to come under strategic infrastructure and is being fast-tracked to An Bord Pleanála.
The meeting heard Kerry County Council is to play “a key consultative role”, and submissions have been invited from the council and its members before the March 10th deadline.
Endesa will apply separately to the council for the demolition of the existing generation plant within six months of the commissioning of the new plant on the 104-acre site, according to a report to the meeting by planning director Michael McMahon.
The new plant will occupy just a quarter of the existing plant site, which extends on to Tarbert island near Tarbert village.
It is adjacent to the proposed Shannon LNG terminal, which is to act as an import terminal and regasification plant for liquefied natural gas from all over the world. Proposed by the Irish subsidiary of the Hess corporation, this has already been approved by the planning authorities. A pipeline to connect the LNG terminal with the national gas grid at Foynes, Co Limerick, has also been approved. The deep water estuary will provide water for cooling purposes.
Several councillors yesterday indicated they would be seeking more long-term annual levies for the benefit of the community from Endesa Ireland.
Cllr John Brassil said annual levies of €15,000 for the benefit of the community for just five years were being sought by the council, along with €60,000 for traffic lights and fire equipment. This compared with some €6 million being sought by the council from the Shannon LNG project.
The meeting heard work had not yet started on the LNG plant as a foreshore licence was still awaited. “There is an unacceptable hold-up in the licence,” Mr Brassil said.