Facilitating Community Sustainability and Development
The main aim of developing any renewable energy project is to increase the sustainability of our country and its people. It is therefore important to ensure that any wind energy development being considered would improve the sustainability of the local area and bring with it environmental, economic and social benefits for the communities in the surrounding areas.
Our ultimate aim is to create a development which the people in the local area will be proud of and one which will enhance the lives of those in the area. We have spoken to people in the area and have included the feedback from these discussion in our design process. This has allowed the local community to influence not only the form of the proposed wind farm, but also the form of the associated community benefit package.
In addition to a mechanism to allow Community Investment, a local Amenity Walkway and Direct Return for those living closest to the wind farm, the community benefit fund will provide a multi-million investment opportunity for the local community. We would like to work with the community to identify community projects or services which could be developed that would make a positive difference to people's daily lives.
What will this bring to the area?
We are aiming to develop a project which will not only bring the environmental benefits of generating green electricity but will also bring real and tangible benefits to the local area. Through talking to people in the local area, we have developed a community benefit proposal which includes the following:
- A Recreational Amenity Walkway and Cycle Track on the wind farm, northeast of Cloneygowan. Whilst talking to people in the local area we were told that the development of a Local Amenity Area which would provide people with a safe and enjoyable place to walk ,without the dangers posed by traffic, would be very much welcomed in the area. In response to this we have included a 6km Walkway and Cycle track which would be through both open areas and forestry. In addition to the walkway, there will be picnic areas and information points providing information on both the local natural environment and renewable energy.
- Community Investment Opportunity – Local People will be able to invest in the project and get a return from the wind farm.
- A no risk investment opportunity
- Guaranteed return
- Local Business Support Strategy. - As a part of our commitment to maximise the economic gain for the surrounding area, we have a developed a Local Business Database. The purpose of this is to ensure that all opportunities for local businesses to secure contracts are captured. All local suppliers, contractors and business will be informed of opportunities and facilitated in applications ensuring that they are considered for all appropriate opportunities. These include:
- Road building: machine drivers, quarries, lorry drivers and ground workers
- Grounds maintenance, fencing materials & fencing contractors
- Engineering, steel fixing, surveying, formwork and shuttering
- Electrical supplies and electrical contracting
- Fuel supply, traffic and transport engineering supplies
- Plant and machinery repair and hire, tyres and servicing
- Supply of materials and goods
- Provision of lodging and travel
- A Multi-million euro Community Benefit Fund will be available for the local communities for projects such as:
- Development of services for the youth in the area
- Development of social care programmes
- Development of environmental programmes
- Development of community facilities
- Environmental and Economic Sustainability Scheme [For those closest to the wind farm]
- Household Dividend
- A Greener Homes Scheme
- Direct return for all households which are within 1km of the turbines and landowners involved directly with the project
- Local Amenity - Initial scoping works have been carried out with the view to the securing and developing of a community amenity/sports area near Cloneygowan Village
- Rates for the Local Authority of approx. €400,000 per year. Rates paid by renewable energy projects would reduce the pressure on local authorities to do so.
- Local road improvements - Roads which would be used during the construction of the project would be upgraded
We would like to see schemes developed which would bring benefits to the local area in terms of community facilities and environmental sustainability.
Ireland is moving towards tackling climate change and becoming a low carbon economy and it is clear that the way in which we use energy is going to change over the coming years. We have recently seen the UK and France commit to future bans on Petrol and Diesel cars while Denmark has already banned the installation of any new oil fired central heating systems. We would like to work with communities around wind farm developments to identify opportunities for individuals and groups to become more environmentally and economically sustainable.
An example of how this might be achieved is that, should this project be permitted, the community fund could consider facilitating the installation of electric car charging points in Walsh Island and Cloneygowan Villages. Alternatively local schools (or other community buildings) could avail of the fund to switch from oil fired heating to renewable forms of heating such as Air to Water heat pumps.
This is for you to decide and have your say on!