Bord na Mona has commenced construction on the Cloncreen wind project in County Offaly this month. The 75MW project was successful in the recent RESS-1 auction, along with fellow Bord na Mona Project Oweninny phase 2. Granted permission in May 2017 from An Bord Pleanala, the development consists of 21 turbines of maximum tip height 170m and includes the development of a new 110kV substation. Cloncreen Wind Farm is expected to be completed in early 2022 and will join other existing wind projects such as Bruckana and Sliabh Bawn in the Bord na Mona renewables portfolio. Cloncreen, as a large-scale wind farm project, located on a site measuring 960 hectares and capable of producing in excess of 50 Megawatts of energy, MKO led the proposed development through the Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID) determination process with An Bord Pleanála, with the Board ultimately determining in July 2016 that the project met the requirements for an SID application. MKO also coordinated the production of the EIS and all planning application documentation submitted to An Bord Pleanala.
Road widening and resurfacing works commenced on the 31st of August for a period of 7 weeks to facilitate access into the site and are now completed.
As well as having the potential to supply the equivalent of 33,000 Irish homes, the project brings forward more local benefits, such as a community benefit fund and rates paid to Offaly County Council which support the provision of local services. It can be reasonably expected that Cloncreen’s community benefit fund would follow a similar model to Mount Lucas’ fund, located approximately 3 km from Cloncreen. Mount Lucas’ community benefit scheme involves an index-linked €1,000 per MW which is then administered to the local community via an awards committee. The same model for Cloncreen would involve an additional €75,000 fund towards the local community.
Additionally, wind projects have proven to be valuable areas for recreation, for example SSE Renewable’s/Coillte’s joint Venture Galway Wind Park is open to the public and features several popular recreational trails. Bord na Mona already has experience in creating publicly accessible wind farms with Mount Lucas which is open to the public, offers 10 km of walkways, an outdoor gym and facilitates tours by appointment. Cloncreen is expected to install 20km of publicly accessible routes.
Bord na Mona’s other RESS-1 project, Oweninny phase 2 is also due to commence construction towards the end of 2020.