By Cronan Scanlon
HUGE 500 foot turbines will form part of Ireland’s largest onshore wind farm which could be constructed along a 15 kilometre stretch of the top of the Finn Valley, from Barnesmore Gap to near Castlefin.
If the wind farm goes ahead, the developers claim, the local community would benefit from a special fund worth €3 million over the 25 year lifespan of the turbines.
It also claims that 200 jobs would be created during the estimated 18-month construction period and this would pump up to €55 million into the local economy.
The Donegal News has been given a sneak preview of the ambitious plans which will be unveiled to members of the public for the first time at a special information day in Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey, between 3pm and 8pm on Wednesday.
Back in January An Bord Pleanala (ABP) was notified by Cork-based Planree Ltd of plans for their proposed development, to be partially located within ten townlands from Carrickduff Hill near Barnesmore, down along the border to Belalt, outside Castlefin.
This week, a spokesman for the developers confirmed the company hopes to erect up to 51 turbines, some of which will reach a maximum height of 156.5 metres (513 ft).
The developers estimate that the total electricity generating output would be 105 MW, making it Ireland’s largest onshore wind farm. When operating at full capacity, it could generate enough electricity to power 66,000 houses, or 80 per cent of all homes in Donegal.
The current largest wind farm in the country, Meentycat, between Drumkeen and Stranorlar, generates 84 MW.
It has been stressed that the development will involve no overhead power lines as all cables will be laid underground to the nearby Clogher sub station, south of Barnes.
Mr Brian Keville of McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan Ltd, the planning and environmental consultants which has been engaged to carry out the feasibility study, spoke to this paper on Wednesday.
He stressed that Wednesday’s information day was not a “publicity stunt”.
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