One of the companies planning massive windfarms in the midlands has entered into preliminary discussions with An Bord Pleanala
Mainstream Renewable Power on December 20 last lodged a pre-application consultation with the planning board for its 400-turbine project, Energy Bridge, across seven counties.
Mainstream Renewable Power is planning to erect 400 turbines across seven counties, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare, Offaly, Laois, Kilkenny and Tipperary, with Offaly is expected to account for the largest number of these turbines, 150. The turbines are expected to span between 150 to 170 metres in height and are part of a 1,200MW first phase of an overall 5,000MW plan to export wind energy to the UK.
A pre-application consultation is a mandatory requirement for a prospective applicant for planning permission for a development that might be regarded as ‘strategic infrastructure development’
A strategic infrastructure development is one which require direct application for permission to the board instead of the local planning authority. It is usually seen as a fast-track mechanism that enables significant projects not be dogged down in lengthy and sometimes duplicating local and national planning applications.
To qualify as strategic infrastructure development a proposed development must first come within the scope of the Strategic Infracture Development guidelines. In addition, the board must come to the opinion that the proposed development, if carried out, would be one or more of the following:-
of strategic economic or social importance to the State or the region in which it would be situate; contribute substantially to the fulfillment of any of the objectives of the National Spatial Strategy or any regional planning guidelines in respect of the area or areas in which the development would be situate; have a significant effect on the area of more than one planning authority.
The opinion is formed by the Board at the conclusion of the pre-application stage.
The moves comes despite Mainstream in October last announcing that it was postponing its planning application to construct the Energy Bridge project for almost a year.
The firm said it was putting back its planning application until late 2015, rather than 2014 as planned, as it wants to “realign” the project with the publication of the government’s Special Environment Assessment (SEA).