Saturday 30 May 2009

Wind farm windfall for Clare families

THIRTY FARM families who will have a majority stakeholding in a company seeking planning permission for a €200 million wind farm in west Clare will share just under €1 million each year in earnings from the project when it becomes operational.

West Clare Renewable Energy has announced plans for 30,410ft 3MW turbines on 3,000 acres of upland on the 1,280ft Mount Callan owned by the farmers overlooking Clare’s west coast.

The group’s chairman, Pádraig Howard, said yesterday that giving the farm families a majority stake in the company “will have a transformational effect on rural Ireland”.

He said each family would receive €30,000 per annum when the project became operational.

“This will be an iconic project,” he said, adding that he hoped construction on the project would get under way in 2011 to provide 250- 300 jobs during the three-year construction phase.

Mr Howard said that when operational, the project would sustain 50 to 100 jobs. He was including in his calculations the €30,000 to be earned by each of the 30 families as 30 jobs.

The project is expected to deliver a community fund for the four parishes in the area that will amount to between €60,000 and €80,000 in the early phase of the project “and a multiple of that after five to 10 years when the debt is paid down on the scheme”.

Mr Howard noted that the proposed wind farm would be only 1km from a grid connection.

The Clare businessman said that it would generate sufficient energy to power all homes and businesses in Co Clare and meet the Limerick-Clare Energy Agency’s 2010 targets for emissions reductions and renewable energy production.

He expected a formal planning application to be lodged in late summer.

“We have been carrying out work connected to the environmental impact statement for almost three years and it has shown that the area doesn’t have the deep bog that other upland areas have so that isn’t an issue in this case.

“Farm families are struggling and many face a very bleak future,” Mr Howard said. “Food prices are not what they were 20 years ago and farmers depend on subsidies and direct farm payments. This project will provide farmers with a new source of income and allow farm families to remain on the land.”

He added that this project would “empower local communities and empower local families”.

John Talty, one of the 30 landowners concerned, said yesterday: “We can’t wait for someone else to do this for us. We are trying to form an industry in west Clare that will keep the locals in west Clare . . . We want to get jobs back in west Clare.”

Irish Times

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