Gaelectric invest 68m euro in rural wind farm

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ENERGY GROUP Gaelectric is planning to invest €68 million in a wind farm outside Coleraine after getting the green light for the project from the planners.

Gaelectric, which has operations in Ireland and North America, said it intended to build a wind farm with the capacity to generate up to 42 mega watts (MW) of electricity at Dunbeg.

The company said the development was likely to cost 68 million euro and estimated that it would provide enough electricity to power 24,000 homes when it was up and running.

Dunbeg is situated 8km north east of Limavady and 11km southwest of Coleraine in a region designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Northern Ireland Planning Service originally refused permission for the development on that ground in December 2007.

However, the Planning Appeals Commission subsequently over-ruled this. Its finding coincided with a policy decision that designating an area of outstanding natural beauty should not necessarily act as a barrier to green energy projects.

The company said it would set up a locally administered fund to support community projects in the area.

Gaelectric is working on wind farms in Ireland with a total capacity of 200MW. Dunbeg is likely to be one of its most significant developments.

The Dunbeg wind farm will consist of 14 wind turbines with a maximum hub height of 80 metres and a maximum blade diameter of 90 metres.

Chief executive Brendan McGrath described the site as “a world-class energy resource”.

Over the last year, it has secured planning for two wind farms in Co Tyrone, at Cregganconroe and Inishative, and one at Carn Hill, Co Antrim.

The company also announced that it had finalised funding of 8 million euro for a 4.6MW wind farm at Skrine, Co Roscommon.

Gaelectric is borrowing the money from Triodos Bank, which specialises in “ethical and sustainable” businesses.