Social Democrats TD for Wicklow Jennifer Whitmore is encouraging communities and stakeholders to take part in the consultation process on the Arklow Bank Wind Park as SSE Renewables progress with Phase 2 of the wind energy development. Deputy Whitmore says “it is vitally important that communities engage at this stage so that we can overcome the shortfalls presented by COVID 19 which has restricted communications and engagement on many projects that are important to communities”.
Party Spokesperson for Climate Action and Communications, Deputy Whitmore continues…
“The Arklow Wind Bank has the potential to develop Arklow and surrounding areas but success will depend on the level of engagement with the local area and with communities that could benefit from funding opportunities.
“I previously arranged an onsite visit to SSE Renewables’ proposed new Operations and Management centre which I was delighted to see will be located in Arklow Harbour. At the time, I welcomed this move which was an indication of the potential of Arklow as a key player in marine activity.
“There are lots of opportunities for Arklow and local communities associated with this development which ongoing consultation will help maximise. Much needed job creation and business development could result from this development and the new facility could attract local firms to contribute to SSE’s supply chain including specialists in ship repairs, site surveying, fuel supply, hospitality, logistics and stevedoring.
“Crucially, the potential for energy initiatives for Arklow and surrounding towns and villages is something that should be prioritised. I encourage towns and villages and community groups to submit their proposals in terms of how they can benefit from energy initiatives or any community benefits associated with the project, as SSE Renewables will be obliged to coordinate a ‘community fund’ for this purpose.
“I welcome the various initiatives SSE Renewables are providing during the consultation process including an interactive webpage; a self-guided public information exhibition at various locations in libraries and town halls; social media, radio and newspaper, a live internet Q&A session and an information pack. Communication will be key
“Community feedback will be very important. I also welcome SSE Renewables’ intention to engage with the fishing community on a number of levels including the establishment of a voluntary fund of an initial sum of €50,000 for programmes and projects which would benefit these funds. I also welcome their intentions to develop guidelines specific to Ireland in conjunction with wind farm developers, the fishing community and government bodies as has been done in the UK.
“This is a good start to what will be a long journey towards developing our potential of offshore wind but it can be a positive one and I look forward to engaging with the project at each level including the upcoming consultation process” concludes Whitmore.