Show me the money — Councillors call for maximum benefit from Connemara windfarm

A report on the proposed new windfarm which covers a massive 4,000 acres in Connemara was circulated to councillors at the meeting of the Galway County Council this week and revealed that a substantial community fund, potentially worth millions of euro will be generated by the development.

An application from Ardderroo Windfarm Limited to erect 29 turbines in the townlands of Killaguile, Letter, Uggool, Ardderroo and Finnaun is currently being assessed by An Bord Pleanala with a decision due in March of next year. The energy that would be generated by the wind turbines would power 62,000 houses in County Galway.

Speaking at the meeting, local representatives were adamant that the community gain from the project must be extremely substantial. Councillors were very positive about the project as they felt the rural site was ideal for the development. Oughterard councillor Thomas Welby said the site ticked a lot of boxes. ‘’It is not in any specially designated areas, it is very high and remote, and there are only two houses on the whole site.’’

However Cllr Welby was very concerned that the community would not be required to raise matching funds in order to benefit from the community gain fund. Cllr Seamas Walsh also welcomed the project saying he believed it was a major positive for the area and that he was delighted to hear about the community gain aspect.

Council director of services Catherine McConnell outlined that the council was not aware there would be any matched funding requirement. Ms McConnell said that the rate of community gain was proposed to be €1,500 per turbine, per annum, however Councillor Noel Thomas who is from the heart of the area involved said he was not happy with the current proposal.

‘’There was a figure going round a few years ago that it could be anything up to €300,000 per annum, so I am a bit shocked by how low the quoted figure is and I would like the message to come from this council that we would like a higher amount.’’ He proposed that the council should seek a more substantial community gain fund of €200,000 per annum for 25 years, which would be index linked to profits. This proposal was agreed on by councillors.

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