Bottlehill wind farm deemed of 'economic and social importance' by planning board

Bottlehill wind farm deemed of 'economic and social importance' by planning board
Aerial shot of Bottlehill landfill site in Co. Cork

A COMPANY and Government business behind a proposed 22-wind turbine development in Bottlehill have been given a huge boost after An Bord Pleanála deemed the project to be of “strategic importance” to the State.

The move may pave the way for the project on a site 23km from Cork city - situated approximately halfway between Blarney and Mallow at Glannasack - to go ahead. The output from the farm is expected to supply energy to over 70,000 homes.

The planning application can now bypass Cork County Council and go straight to the planning board.

The wind farm, proposed by Brookfield Renewable Ireland and Coillte, has been met with some opposition from residents in areas such as Carrignavar, Mourbeabbey, Glenville, Killavullen, Whitechurch and Grenagh with concerns over noise pollution, the health of people living in close proximity to the turbines and access to high-speed broadband services.

Brookfield Renewable Ireland Limited and Coillte, who are planning the Coom Green Energy Park, requested that the planning authority consider if the project met the requirements to be deemed a Strategic Infrastructure Development that would place it as having strategic economic or social importance to the State or the region; contribute substantially to the fulfilment of any of the objectives in the National Spatial Strategy and have significant effect on the area of more than one planning authority.

A sign at the entrance to Bottlehill Residual Landfill. Picture Denis Minihane.
A sign at the entrance to Bottlehill Residual Landfill. Picture Denis Minihane.

An Bord Pleanála Inspector Karla McBride said: “I consider that the proposed development meets the requirements of condition (a) of Section 37(A) (2) of the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006 as it would be of strategic economic importance to the state and region due to its scale, location and the contribution it would make to the provision of renewable energy and reducing the States carbon footprint.” Ms McBride added: “Having regard to the size, scale and location of the proposed Green Energy Park and related development it is considered that the proposed development comprising the development of a 22 x turbine windfarm with associated infrastructure and site works at Bottlehill, Mullenaboree, Knockdoorty & Glennasack constitutes development that falls within the definition of transport infrastructure.” The board has concurred with Ms McBride’s recommendation.

Up to €48 million was spent turning the site into a municipal landfill but it has been idle for several years due to excess landfill sites around the country. The proposed wind farm is set to take up part up to 25% of the site.

There were suggestions in 2016 that 40,000 tonnes of ash per year from the proposed incinerator at Ringaskiddy, which is currently awaiting a judicial review, would be sent to Bottlehill as landfill.

However, there has still been no definitive answer on uses for the larger area of the site.

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