Greenwire, the wind generation company has announced details of where it is considering constructing wind turbines in Kildare.
As the accompanying map shows, the areas are generally in the less populated rural parts of west Kildare.
Greenwire held an information day on Thursday, July 11 in the community centre in Derrinturn.
It was, they said, the fifth in a series of such days they’re planning to hold throughout the Midlands.
At the moment, the pieces of land being considered by the company are undergoing environment and geological assessment, as well as measuring the wind flow in the area.
General manager of the project, Kevin Hayes told the Leinster Leader that the company had already entered into agreements with the landowners, one of whom is Coilte.
The plan is to submit planning applications early in the new year. Realistically speaking, if they get planning approval, it will be 2015 before they start construction.
The company is not blind to the fears of local people, and is realistic enough to know that they will not bring everyone along.
“I suppose one of our key messages to people is that is not new,” Mr. Hayes explained.
“ Wind farms have been in existance for the past 20 years in parts of Cork, Kerry and Sligo, and then also, obviously on the continent, and local people are fine with them. You’ll find there’s practically no objections whenever there’s an application to expand them.”
Addressing concerns that have been expressed about the size of the turbines, Mr. Hayes explained that the benefit of larger turbines was that you could build fewer.
“I was involved, straight out of college, in a wind farm construction up in Sligo in 1996, where we built 10 of them. With the advances in technology, we can now get the same electricity from one or maybe two turbines.
With each turbine costing between €6 and €8 million to construct, the company is anxious to stress the benefits to the local community, and they’ve hired legendary Kildare footballer John Doyle as a community liaison officer to help reassure people.
Mr. Doyle told the Leinster Leader that he had visited a wind farm in Tipperary. He said that the noise experienced while standing under one of the turbines was like standing under a tree being blown by the wind. “You can carry on a conversation no problem. You won’t even have to raise your voice.
And Greenwire is proposing a very generous Community Benefit Programme. It has four elements including a local community fund, likely to be worth more than €1 million to the Kildar economy per annum. The second element is an educational fund, to assist people who want to study or train in the renewable energy sector. The third is a fund for households near the turbines to invest in renewable energy such as solar panel. And finally there will be a Local Enterprise Fund, which, they say will be run along the same liknes as the Leader Partnership.
“We’re building an export industry with an estimated annual turnover of €1.2 billion per annum,” Mr. Hayes said.