Statkraft seeking SID status for Coole wind farm plan

The firm behind plans to build a wind farm in the Coole area should find out next week if its attempt to have the project designated as a strategic infrastructure development (SID) passes the consultation phase.

Coole Windfarm Limited, a subsidiary of wind energy giant Statkraft Limited, have submitted a revised plan to An Bord Pleanála that includes details for the construction of 15 turbines together with grid connection.

The new plan incorporates two previous applications; one for 13 wind turbines, which is currently awaiting a judgement from the Commercial Court, and a second application for a grid connection, which was withdrawn during the summer after the North Westmeath Turbine Action Group mounted a High Court Challenge against Westmeath County Council’s decision to give it the go- ahead.

If Statkraft’s project is given SID status, any future application will bypass Westmeath County Council and go straight to An Bord Pleanála for consideration. The planning authority is scheduled to make a decision on the status of the plan early next week.

According to legislation, if a windfarm has an output capacity of more than 50 megawatts, it could be considered as a SID.

In a statement issued to the Westmeath Examiner, a spokesperson for Statkraft confirmed that "engagement with An Bord Pleanála on the Coole Wind Farm has commenced regarding a fifteen turbine project and associated grid connection" and that "the application would supersede the original consented project which comprises of thirteen turbines".

"Being cognisant of the current restrictions and challenges presented by Covid-19, Statkraft will shortly commence in a process of virtual public consultation for the project with the intention of lodging an application for the revised project before the end of the year. Statkraft is passionate about decarbonising our energy supply and playing its part in the ongoing effort to reduce Ireland’s dependence on fossil fuels. It also prioritises meaningful engagement with local communities from the outset, to best shape and deliver projects which can deliver optimum benefits to each host area."