Wind company to host information meetings in Westmeath over summer

Element Power, the company planning to install 750 wind turbines across the Midlands in a €1.2bn project to export electricity to the UK, has confirmed it is to host a series of information days throughout the five counties in June and July.

“We’re hoping to have about 12 meetings across the five counties, but we haven’t finalised the details just yet. We’ve yet to decide on the most suitable locations [for the meetings], but we’d hope to have the details finalised by next week,” said company spokesman Sean Perry.

He couldn’t reveal how many landowners had already signed up with Element Power, but did confirm: “We are well on target to provide Phase 1 of the plan which is to provide 2GW [giga, or billion watts] by 2017”.

“The remaining 1GW is to be available by 2018 according to the agreement, and we’re well on course to meet that,” said Mr Perry.

“We hope these events will provide objective factual information about windfarms, and answer the queries which people have regarding Greenwire [as the project is called]. We have designed these events to be flexible and informal so locals can feel welcome to drop into the day-long events at whatever time best suits them,” said CEO of Element Power, Tim Cowhig.

“These consultations will be in addition to a future public engagement as part of a pre-planning process where we intend to hold a series of more local community meetings towards the end of the year ahead of submitting an application for planning permission which is on-course for early 2014,” he explained.

This refers to the statutory, pre-planning public consultation process which all planning applications requiring an environmental impact statement must provide.

Element Power could not yet confirm when this would be, but with early 2014 earmarked by the firm for submission of its planning application to An Bord Pleanála, expected the consultation process would happen around Christmas.

Element Power has already distributed 25,000 newsletters throughout the five counties, and has received feedback from 4,000 people.

The company believes its plan will create 10,000 construction jobs, and a further 3,000 associated, long-term jobs.

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