Galway Bay marine site sparks new concerns for local residents

Fears are growing among concerned residents about the recent application to construct an offshore marine and renewable energy test site in Galway Bay near the Spiddal coastline.

The foreshore application made by the Marine Institute is for a 35 year lease to construct testing electricity generating devices less than one mile from the Galway-Spiddal coastline including 115 feet high wind turbines.

As a result residents are meeting on Monday (August 22 ) at Park Lodge Hotel in Spiddal to discuss the application and its implications.

"The Marine Institute had handed out an information document which is about 400 pages," says one of the meeting's organisers, who did not wish to be named. " Realistically the average person would not have time to read that, so those who have questions can find out information at this meeting.

"We are concerned this new application is to connect up to the electricity grid, notwithstanding the Marine Institute saying it was only going to test wave energy when it received the licence 10 years ago.

"However, our understanding is that the Government can at any time, at its own discretion, change from a test site to a fully functional energy development site within the 35 year period. The application allows the development of devices as they see fit when the time comes."

Worries about the size and location of the station will be raised at the meeting. "The station is believed to be 30 times the size of Croke Park. The test wind turbine is going to be 115 feet tall.

"We run a regatta in Spiddal every year of Galway hookers and it is right on the line of the regatta. There was no environment impact statement; there was no consultation with the likes of us.

"Children in 35 years' time may grow up not seeing anything else than an enormous electricity station out in the bay."

However a spokesperson for the Marine Institute says there is no proposal for a wind farm in Galway Bay.

"The lease application proposes to upgrade the existing infrastructure and facilitate the deployment of a wider range of marine renewable energy devices and novel sensor technologies at the site, which would potentially include prototype floating wind turbines.

"Under the lease application only one floating wind device could be tested on the site at any one time, with a maximum of three unique renewable marine energy devices on site at any one time."

"The lease application does not propose any change to the location, area, or size of the existing test site which has been in operation since 2006."

A spokesperson for the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government said, "There is an ongoing public consultation which does not close until September 9, 2016. Interested parties may submit their views to the Foreshore Unit.

"Submissions can be made to Marine Planning and Foreshore Section, Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Newtown Road, Wexford, Co Wexford, or via email to [email protected]."

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