Wednesday, March 22, 2023


THE project manager of a proposed wind farm off the coast of County Louth has said it will “bring economic opportunities to Kilkeel, Warrenpoint and elsewhere in County Down”. Garrett Connell, Oriel Windfarm, was responding to concerns raised about the major renewable energy proposal – to be located east of Dundalk Bay and south of the mouth of Carlingford Lough – by Mournes DUP councillor Glyn Hanna after a public consultation event was held in Kilkeel last Wednesday (1 February). The local representative said that he was shocked by “the view of the wind turbines” there would be from Cranfield, Kilkeel’s Mourne Esplanade and Slieve Binnian if the plans get the go-ahead. “All you will see looking south is turbines,” he continued. “These wind turbines will provide enough power for 300,000 homes in the Republic of Ireland/all-Ireland grid. “Northern Ireland, I believe, will receive little benefit. “What is important to remember is that this consultation was hosted by the company that will profit from the wind farm, and they were there to promote and sell to the locals.” Cllr Hanna stated that he believed “there is no guarantee any work will be brought to Belfast to build equipment”, and that “nowhere has Northern Ireland been offered any contract or arrangement to receive this renewable energy through the Northern Ireland energy regulator”. He added that he would be surprised if Kilkeel Harbour “saw any investment from this”, and that “there is no guarantee of any investment or return for the local people of Kilkeel or Northern Ireland”.  “It is a Republic of Ireland funded and owned project, providing electricity to them,” the councillor concluded. “Without any guarantee of commitments, I consider this all as sales talk, and all I see here is the huge impact on our coastline, fishing industry, tourist industry and our community. “If this wind farm goes ahead, it will open the door to wind turbines along all our coastlines, and I fear it will wreck the fishing industry in County Down. “Do we really want to sell the beautiful views from the Mournes and of the Mournes for a fistful of euros or pounds? I don’t.” His party colleague and fellow Mournes councillor Henry Reilly subsequently released a statement, in which he voiced similar concerns “regarding the imposition of a massive wind factory proposal off the County Louth coast”. “I have no doubt that monster machines 850ft high in plain sight would be a deterrent to the development of our tourism industry, which has massive potential in Mourne,” he said. “I was shocked at the presentation I attended on this proposal, and I call on the Irish Government to put a stop to this proposal now, if they have any respect for the people of Mourne.” In a statement issued to the Mourne Observer, Mr Connell said that the proposed wind farm – being developed by Belgian green energy company Parkwind and state-owned utility company ESB – will have “a generation capacity of up to 375 megawatts (MW), which is enough electricity to power about 300,000 homes”. “By delivering renewable offshore power to the all-island energy system, Oriel and other offshore wind projects will help displace expensive fossil fuels for consumers across the island, including those in Northern Ireland,” he stated. “The project will bring major economic and community benefits to the north-east region, providing a significant employment boost during construction. “Oriel will also be an ongoing employer in the region with a local operations and maintenance base, creating spin-off jobs in the region during its 30-year lifespan. “This will bring economic opportunities to Kilkeel, Warrenpoint and elsewhere in County Down, where business in the offshore wind and maritime sectors are already established, and to the wider economy in Northern Ireland.” The project manager said that the project’s operation and maintenance will “provide high quality jobs for decades to come, and we expect to draw employees from the wider region and cross-border”.  “Belfast Harbour is the only port on the island of Ireland that is set up to handle the construction of an offshore wind farm, and is ideally placed as a construction base for the Oriel project,” he continued. “Oriel has been engaging on a cooperative basis with the fishing industry in Kilkeel over the past number of years, and will continue to do so as the project progresses.” Mr Connell highlighted that Oriel Windfarm supports a community benefit fund – a government mandated multimillion-euro fund to be set up once the project is operational – being “made available to communities north and south and will be strongly arguing this case”.

Subscribe Today

Read the full article.

Full story inside this week’s print edition or Login/subscribe to access our Digital Edition & App

More articles

This website uses cookies. Using this website means you are okay with this. You can find out more and learn how to manage cookies by clicking the 'More Info' link.