A proposed South Kilkenny wind farm has been given a major planning boost in recent days.
'Castlebanny Wind Farm' has been granted ‘strategic infrastructure project’ status by An Bord Pleanála.
This will allow project developers, ART Generation and Coillte, to send their planning application directly to An Bord Pleanála, and bypass the local planning approval phase.
The proposed wind farm would be located in South County Kilkenny, 2.2km South-East of Ballyhale, 4.5km North-East of Mullinavat and 5.8km South-West of Inistioge.
It entails the construction of 21 wind turbines up to a maximum tip height of 185 metres, 3 onsite borrow pits to source stone, one onsite met mast of 100m in height as well as the provision of amenity facilities to allow and encourage public access to the site.
The project aims to support sustainable local employment, contribute annual rates to the local authority and provide opportunity for local community investment in the project in line with the new Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS).
It is anticipated that for each megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity produced by the wind farm, the project will contribute €2 into a community fund.
It is acknowledged by the developers that the people living closest to a wind farm are the most important stakeholders and a portion of the community fund will be set aside as a dedicated ‘Near Neighbour Fund’.
The planning application will be supported by an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) and a Natura Impact Statement (NIS) and public consultation is ongoing.