A €255 million investment in a renewable energy project in Killala that could be a springboard for the economic development of North Mayo - is being put at risk because of an inexplicable delay in granting licences by the Energy Regulator, Mayo Fine Gael Senator Michelle Mulherin has warned.
New investors are on board to complete The Mayo Renewable Project, a 45 megawatt high efficiency combined heat and power plant, that has been in limbo since 2016 when technical difficulties saw one of the investors pull out.
Senator Mulherin pressed the Regulation of Utilities Water and Energy (CRU ) at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action to prioritise the project.
Senator Mulherin said: "There is a new developer for the biomass-fuelled power plant project. The new promoters are trying to replicate the exact same project - the same design, the same proposition etc.
"There is no material change to it. Also as I understand it there has been no regulatory change. There are four consents needed from four separate authorities. They have succeeded in getting consent from Mayo County Council in relation to the planning permission, the EPA, ESB Networks.
"In relation to the CRU, an application was made in June for the consent that it requires and it seems that they are running into an awful lot of difficulty.
"First of all, the Certificate of High Efficiency which was granted at 100% previously was subsequently given a 70% rating by consultants retained by the CRU.
"I know that the CRU has gone back to the drawing board and revisited the issue of the high efficiency rating because at 70% this renders the project non-viable and there has been no indication of where there is a material change in the proposition before the CRU, which would justify the decrease in rating.
"However, time is of the essence in the need to complete this new review, but as things stand the developers have no idea when the process will be completed and when the consent will issue.
"It's a €225 million project - €95 million has already been incurred by the investors. It has also strategic national significance in that it will help us achieve our renewable electricity targets and also help towards heating targets.
"And in relation to the region, the project is required for the development of a data centre at this site for which there is already planning permission granted.
"It has been identified by Mayo County Council, the IDA and everybody involved as being of strategic importance and the whole project is now in danger of falling flat on its back on account of various components and moving parts which require investors to know what is going to happen. It doesn't make sense to me what is going on here."
She added: "Not only is it a critical project for us locally in Mayo, but is of national significance in that it will help us achieve our renewable electricity and heat targets. It can also help deliver the data centre at Asahi which I have been making the case for to the IDA."