Energy company SSE has suffered a major setback to its plans to develop an oil-fired power generation plant outside Duleek, Co Meath, after the project was refused planning permission because of its impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
An Bord Pleanála has upheld an appeal by local residents against the decision of Meath County Council to approve the construction of a 208-megawatt open cycle gas turbine “peaker” power plant at Platin.
The board voted by a 5-3 majority to refuse planning permission for the facility, which was designed to act as a back-up power plant at periods of high electricity demand.
Although the board found the site suitable for electricity generation, it said a plant operating on natural gas or other fuel source, which did not require the use of distillate oil, was warranted.
An inspector with An Bord Pleanála described SSE’s choice of fuel for the plant as “misplaced” and said to approve such a project would be “irresponsible”.
SSE said the project was designed to ensure security of electricity supply in the north-east region. The company said it had sought to develop the facility on its own greenfield site in an area where industrial use was permitted.
SSE said it would have provided strategic support to the national electricity system during peak times by providing electricity back-up when consumer demand exceeded generation supply.
It pointed out planning permission had previously been granted to develop the site for power generation on three previous occasions by both the local council and An Bord Pleanála.
SSE said the plant would normally only have operated when there was a peak demand for electricity such as early evening in the winter months. The company claimed it would be “largely carbon neutral”, although it acknowledged additional operational hours were a possibility.
It maintained its proposal was a fast-acting, flexible plant that would deliver on climate change targets by facilitating more wind generation.
An Bord Pleanála said the full reliance by SSE on a fossil fuel to operate the power plant would run contrary to national policy.