How has this proposal evolved?
The location considered was initially identified following a national review of areas that could provide suitable areas for the development of wind energy proposals. This review included consideration of distances from houses, avoidance of environmentally designated areas and the avoidance of excessive cumulative developments along with other considerations.
At the initial stages of consideration of this proposal, designers drafted a layout that would maximise the wind energy potential of the site. Staying in line with the guidelines, the following initial assumptions were made: The initial distances to houses were taken at 500m (subsequently increased to 700km), shadow flicker curtailment was taken at the maximum allowable levels, the turbine height was taken at 169m. The resulting layout from this exercise consisted of 25 turbines with a potential electricity output of 90mw. The area under consideration was subsequently further refined and the area and number of turbines reduced with the tip height being increased.
Placing local appropriateness as a fundamental consideration, feedback was taken on board and inputted into the design process along with other factors. The distance to houses, number of turbines, shadow flicker and noise were all considered. It was found that it was possible to increase the distances to houses, reduce turbine numbers and improve general performance levels of the proposed wind farm by increasing the tip height by 6m. Essentially, the redesign of the permitted area of the Coole Wind Farm resulted in the number of turbines being reduced from 18 (169m tip) to 13 (175m tip) with the distance to houses increased to 700m and over. Another area with 7 turbines was dropped from consideration for the planning application. The design changes are set out in the following table:
|Initial Consideration||Current Design Proposal|
|Distance to houses||500m||700m|
|Shadow Flicker||In line with guidelines||Eliminated – No Shadow Flicker|
|Number of turbines||25||13|
|Potential Output (approx.)||90MW||50MW|
|Revised layout benefits||N/A||Further from houses
Reduction in turbine numbers
Optimal design for general performance
Less construction traffic
Significant community benefit
Having established a working design layout, environmental surveys were carried out to ensure the suitability of the location. Many factors are considered as a part of the assessment process including the local environment, geology, hydrology etc. The planning permission application was submitted to Westmeath County Council in 2017. Permission was refused by Westmeath County Council, however their decision was subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanala who granted permission in 2019. It is proposed to connect this wind farm to the electricity grid system at the Mullingar substation.
In addition to the above, we have had many conversations, over the course of public consultation, with people living in the local area regarding how this project could work best and deliver the most benefit possible to the area. As part of this ongoing engagement, we would like people to consider how funding from the development could play an important role in assisting the development of the area in the coming years.
The more feedback that you provide to us, the more potential this proposal has to be of benefit to you!