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Windfarm firm is helping to fund the air ambulance

September 23rd, 2022 11:45 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

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THE firm behind a West Cork windfarm is helping to fund the region’s air ambulance service.

SSE Renewables, the company behind the Coomatallin Wind Farm in Dunmanway, has given an unspecified amount of funding to the Irish Community Air Ambulance.

The funding is part of a series of monies which the firm pays out to local communities in areas where their windfarms operate.

Projects within a 20km radius of a windfarm are entitled to seek cash from the company, and since 2006 the company has paid out €1.7m to such projects in Co Cork.

Anne Reynolds of SSE Renewables said the monies ‘support, energise, and help invigorate’ the communities around their three windfarms.

The company said that most of this year’s recipient groups put the funding towards Covid measures and running costs of schools, clubs and community centres.

The funding included money towards an outdoor gym at Clondrohid Community Recreational Facility and the Sacred Heart Church graveyard in Drinagh.

Speaking about the money for the ‘flying doctor’ service, which covers West Cork, Karen O’Sullivan of the Irish Air Ambulance said: ‘Support from the fund helps us to bring hope to those most vulnerable so they can receive equal healthcare to those living near cities and major hospitals.’

The closing date for this year’s applications to the fund was September 9th.

SSE Renewables operates three windfarms in the county, with a combined capacity of around 66 MW, and which produce energy to power almost 34,000 homes.

SSE Renewables is the owner and operator of onshore wind for the energy firm SSE Airtricity. Since its establishment, it has awarded a total of €10m to communities throughout the country.

Meanwhile, an information evening for a proposed windfarm near Caheragh was held recently in the village’s community hall.

Ballybane Windfarms 2 Ltd is seeking permission for seven turbines and a substation in the townlands of Shronagree, Ballybane East, Letterlicky Middle an Letterlicky East.

The site for the ‘Shronagree’ Windfarm is to the east of the existing Ballybane windfarm which is off the N71 between Bantry and Drimoleague.

It is estimated the windfarm would provide enough power for 19,500 homes and the planned turbine hubs would reach 83-86m in height with the tip of the rotors reaching 150m. The company says construction would take up to 14 months with 30 workers on site.

A small number of local residents who said their homes were very close to the proposed site made enquiries about the time permitted to lodge an objection to the planning application.

The company also said that it would establish a ‘Community Benefit Fund’ which would ‘include a contribution of €2 pre mw/hr of loss-adjusted electricity production – estimated at €130,000 per annum.’

It also mooted the possibility of making payments to dwellings within 1km of a turbine, adding: ‘This payment is currently €1,000 per annum.’

This week, a report showed that €7.2m was paid by Cork windfarms in commercial rates to Cork County Council in 2022. The report, published by Wind Energy Ireland, also said Cork communities received €437,000 in community benefit funding in 2020.

Noel Cunniffe of Wind Energy Ireland said an enormous opportunity now exists for a ‘new industrial sector’ to emerge in Cork – wind energy.

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