PLANS are at an advanced stage for a giant ‘€1 billion’ wind farm in County Donegal, it has been claimed.
In a bizarre twist during a court case in England last week, a corporate finance manager was spared jail after it was revealed time behind bars would ‘sink’ the mystery project.
On Friday, however, neither An Bord Pleanala nor Donegal County Council were aware of any such planning application.
According to the Oxford Mail newspaper, Michael Chase-Sarver (47), of Twelve Acre Farm, Eynsham, had pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice after deceiving authorities when he was caught speeding in March.
In Oxford Crown Court on Tuesday, Deputy Circuit Judge Patrick Eccles QC said he “deserved” to be jailed but spared him after dramatic evidence from an Irish businessman.
Engineer and property developer, Mr Noel Shortt, flew to Oxford from Derry, to tell the court a billion-Euro scheme to build a 35,000-acre wind farm in Donegal would “sink” if Chase-Sarver was jailed.
Mr Shortt said investors were due to meet the pair in Dublin this week.
The father-of-one, who has pumped €2m into the project set to create 300 jobs, explained that the deal – which had been brought to the table by Chase-Sarver – would collapse if the Eynsham man was jailed and he would lose his property portfolio and his house.
He added that he had lease agreements had been made with more than 100 farmers in Donegal for the massive 35,000-acre site.
The project must be up and running by December 2017, or it will lose a government subsidy – according to Mr Shortt this means turbines would need to be ordered by November this year.
The cost of phase one of the nine-phase project, the installation of thirteen turbines, would be €60m – with the overall cost estimated at around €1bn.
Judge Eccles brandished Chase-Sarver as “unbelievably dishonest” but said he could not allow an honest man’s life and 300 potential jobs be ruined by his actions.
After being caught speeding earlier this year Chase-Sarver, who has previously worked for Barclays and Lehman Brothers and now runs his own company, had his car re-sprayed, convinced the garage who did the work to backdate the job, and told police his registration plates were being fraudulently used by someone else.
He was sentenced to four months in jail, suspended for two years, and given a four-month curfew which requires him to be at his Eynsham home everyday between 6pm and 6am.
DECLAN BONNER will look to collect the first piece of silverware from his second tenure in charge of Donegal.