Windfarm may be built on unused landfill

A Canadian company wants to build a windfarm at the country’s largest landfill site, which was ‘mothballed’ some years ago, having cost €48m to develop.

Cork County Council is in advanced discussions with Brookfield Renewable, which intends to take over some of the local authority’s on-hold landfill at Bottlehill and develop a multi-million euro windfarm there.

The company was one of a number which tendered for use of some of the site, in a forest 23kms north of Cork city. The council is also considering other bids, which were submitted after the local authority published a call for proposals in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The council views the Brookfield proposal as “one of the most economically advantageous bids” for future part-use of the Bottlehill site.

Louis Duffy, head of the council’s environment directorate, said the Brookfield proposal would entail the construction and operation of 20 wind turbines, but these would not impose on the landfill area.

The facility was mothballed because there was adequate landfill in the country. The council says that it will become economically viable as a landfill when other landfills begin to fill in.

Mr Duffy said: “There is currently adequate landfill in the country, but when this diminishes, it [Bottlehill] is likely to become viable.”

In the meantime, the council wants to earn back money for the taxpayer, by utilising parts of the site for energy projects, such as the one proposed by Brookfield Renewable.

Mr Duffy said that the extent of development, including the number, type, and layout of turbines, will be determined after a public consultation between Brookfield Renewable and local residents. He said the Canadian company, which has an office in Cork, hopes to submit a planning application within 12 months.

Mr Duffy said that Brookfield has surveyed the whole area and hopes to build the turbines in selected parts of the site. This will minimise any disturbance to local householders. He said the council has not made a final decision on other bids it received for development at the site.

Mr Duffy said the local authority “is advancing detail development with Brookfield to ensure that there is no conflict with these other proposals, prior to making its decision on further, possible activities on the site”. He would not comment on the other proposals the council had received.

Brookfield Renewable has just commenced discussions with adjoining landowners about the potential to develop a project in the wider area, outside the landfill.

Mr Duffy said that one of the main landowners in the area is Coillte, with whom Brookfield is investigating co-developing an energy project.

He added that any proposals for the site, and for lands in the area, would require authorisation under the Planning and Development Acts and may be dealt with under the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act, 2006.

Brookfield Renewable has carried out environmental and ecological surveys in the area and continues to do so.

Mr Duffy said the results of these surveys will help to determine areas around the site that will support the wind energy project.

He said that the company will shortly initiate a wide-ranging public consultation process to ensure that individuals and communities have a say in the design of the project.

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