Some 34 jobs will be created through the construction of a 20MW windfarm in east Cavan. The development, which will also create two permanent jobs when operational, moved a step closer to realisation after permission was granted to lay a power cable connecting it to the national grid.
Applications to install almost nine kilometres of 38kV transmission cable underground from the Galetech Energy-owned wind farm at Taghart near Shercock to Meathhill were both green-lighted by Cavan and Meath county councils last week.
This was the “final piece of the puzzle” for the €30 million project, developed in partnership with local family, the McBreens, providing the respective local authority decisions are not appealed.
The 9km of cable will be installed predominantly in excavated trenches approximately 1.2m in depth, span two bridges, and form part of the overall 13km cable linkage cable from the permitted wind farm substation to its connection with the national grid.
Last August, An Bord Pleanala upheld Cavan County Council's decision to permit Stradone-based Galetech to press ahead with plans to develop seven turbines measuring 125 metres in height at Taghart South and North, Glasleck and Ralaghan, Shercock.
The council had previously granted permission for nine turbines but this was appealed to the planning regulator and Galetech subsequently mitigated the size of the project.
Among the objections had been that the Gartnaneane wind farm already operated in the area, while other concerns centred on noise and visual impact.
Permission to underground the necessary cable came with a total of 18 conditions attached. They include, that prior to commencement of the development, Galetech will submit a comprehensive traffic management plan. Several other measures are in the interest of protecting the environment.
“We got notice of the Cavan cable being granted last week, and the Meath cable came a couple of days later. Both were fully granted,” welcomed Stephen Drury, project development manager with Galetech Energy Development.
Mr Drury estimates, should there be no further delay, that the project is about six months away from being “shovel-ready”. Work will begin before the end of the year with a completion time of the end of 2019. Once up and running, the wind farm is expected to produce enough energy to power around 14,260 Irish homes a year.
Considered a “key project” for Galetech, Mr Drury said of the Taghart wind farm: “It has been a really important project for us over the number of years that we've been in development. We're just at this moment constructing the Carrickallen wind project (20.5MW), which is not a million miles away from Taghart. We recently finished construction of Old Mill (13.8MW) project near Lough Egish in Monaghan. So Taghart is very much the key project we have in development at this moment in time.”
Mr Drury explained too, how once operational, the local community stands to benefit from the project, with 25% of the overall €30 million estimated cost expected to be spent locally.
A total of 16 families will further benefit directly from the project collectively receiving annual payments of up to €150,000 for the lifetime of the wind farm.
Meanwhile, €560,000 or €22,400 per annum for the 25-year lifespan of the project will be paid into a Community Fund, with invitations for funding to be be advertised annually and ring fenced for initiatives that directly benefit people in the immediate area of the wind farm.
Finally, a “unique and highly valuable additional fund” is also being set up providing a payment of €500 to each and every existing house within one kilometre of the nearest turbine annually as a contribution to their household energy bills for the operational life of the wind farm. This is estimated to equate to a total of €41,000 annually with 82 homes directly benefitting.
“There were a number of objectors but really the area has been a very positive area to develop in. Cavan as a whole is generally fairly positive [to plans such as this], but obviously with any major infrastructural developments there will be some with a differing view. There wasn't a huge amount [of objection] but there was some and we made our case successfully throughout the planning process. Both Cavan and the Bord granted planning permission for the wind farm itself, and the two planning authorities of Cavan and Meath have now given the go ahead for the cable,” said Mr Drury.