West Offaly Power Station in Shannonbridge.

Local power station demolition plans on hold

Offaly County Council has asked the ESB to submit a revised and full Fire Impact Assessment, an Emergency Response Plan and a Fire Safety Assessment as part of a further information request on the company’s plans to demolish the West Offaly Power Station in Shannonbridge.

Plans for the demolition of the plant and the development and operation of a Battery Energy Storage (BESS) and a Synchronous Condenser (Sync Con) have been put on hold as a result of the further information request.

The council letter to the ESB states that it is widely accepted that firefighting of the type of facilities proposed for Shannonbridge “is extremely problematic” due to the electrical power being generated, and they have requested the applicant to submit “a comprehensive firefighting action plan” as part of their application.

The further information request states that the Council’s Fire Officer is “not satisfied” with the plans and particulars submitted in the Fire Impact Assessment (FIA) and describes the information as “substandard” in a number of aspects, including a lack of detail in relation to the development of a “suppression system” designed to “contain and suppress a fire and prevent spread to adjacent


The applicant has been asked to address 13 specific issues, including a request to “define the gases emitted” in a fire event from the proposed batteries; a hazard analysis for the design, operation and maintenance of the plant “to include Fire and Explosion;” and a submission of details on the management of “potentially explosive atmospheres;” a Risk Assessment and “risk mitigation and failure mode analysis studies.”

The local authority also expressed concerns in relation to “adequacy of the data used” to inform the findings conclusions of the submitted Natura Impact Statement (NIS) and has requested the ESB to confirm what bird and wildlife surveys were reviewed and undertaken and the dates of their completion.

In addition, the application has also been asked to submit a detailed Biodiversity Management Plan, and concerns have also been raised about the impact to the wider local and regional road network “due to the haulage of disposal and fill material” which the council letter states “cannot be assessed adequately.”

In light of this the applicant has been asked to identify on a map “any potential material disposal locations and potential quarries and their associated haul routes to and from the proposed development.”

Offaly County Council has also requested the ESB to clarify whether “blasting” or “charges” will be used during the demolition phase of the proposed development.

The letter also notes that the proposed development is located within “the preferred route corridor” of the proposed Galway to Athlone Cycleway Project, and has asked the applicant to provide “a revised layout drawing” which identifies a potential area to facilitate the proposed greenway.

“The applicant must demonstrate on the site layout drawing that the proposed development will not restrict the delivery of the Galway to Athlone Cycleway Project,” the letter states.

The applicant must also review all the third party submissions that have been received and to “respond/provide clarification” on the items raised, including concerns raised about compliance with the Habitats Directive and the potential impact on identified Natura sites.

The ESB has been given a period of six months to submit the further information requested by Offaly County Council.

The ESB formally lodged plans to demolish the West Offaly Power Station in Shannonbridge with Offaly County Council on May 5 last, and sought approval for the development and operation of a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) and a Synchronous Condenser (Sync Con).

The project, to be carried out in two phases, would include the complete demolition of the former power station and all existing structures on the 35-hectare site to ground level, including the iconic 80-metre high chimney stack which has been a landmark on the local landscape for decades.

The second phase of the project is designed to develop what is described in the original planning application as “grid services” within the re-instated power station site, which will “support the provision of low carbon energy” that will be produced throughout Ireland.