It is hoped up to 4,000 jobs will be secured after An Bord Pleanála last night granted permission to four healthcare companies to build €30m wind turbines in Cork Harbour.
The planning appeals board granted healthcare companies Janssen Biologics, (Centocor at the time of the application), DePuy, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis permission to build four wind turbines, each 100m high, to supply their plants with green energy.
It is estimated that the companies are responsible, directly or indirectly, for 4,000 jobs and spend in excess of €100m annually on services to the local economy.
They made their plans known in Aug 2010 at public information meetings in Ringaskiddy and Cobh, at which they pointed out they needed to reduce the high price they were paying for electricity from the national grid in order to remain competitive.
They had initially sought to erect six turbines, but An Bord Pleanála would only grant permission for four.
The companies — which have invested over €2bn in the Cork region in the past 20 years — combined in the planning application to form the Cork Lower Harbour Energy Group (CLHEG). They said the turbines would help to reduce the carbon footprint of each factory by up to 30%.
That equates to a reduction of 22,000 tonnes of CO2 being spewed into the atmosphere every year, the equivalent of removing 11,000 cars from Irish roads annually.
They maintained that as Ireland has one of the highest energy costs in Europe, the move was essential to reduce costs “to an sustainable level” to remain competitive and protect jobs.
Last night, CLHEG confirmed that An Bord Pleanála upheld the decision by Cork County Council to grant planning permission to install the wind turbines within their manufacturing sites, subject to a number of conditions.
“The companies involved are very satisfied with the outcome and wish to acknowledge the involvement and support of so many individuals and organisations during the planning process,” said a spokeswoman.
Sean Sherlock, minister of state with responsibility for research and innovation, welcomed the decision.
“This is a positive decision that will help the four healthcare manufacturing companies in the lower harbour to dramatically reduce their energy consumption costs. This will play well to the future viability of manufacturing in the Cork region,” said Mr Sherlock.
Linda Fitzpatrick, spokeswoman for environmental lobby group Chase (Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment) welcomed the news that the wind turbine project has been given the go-ahead.
“Any move towards clean sustainable energy which does not add to the pollution in Cork Harbour has to been seen in a positive light,” he said.
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