212-megawatt battery storage facility at Kildare goes ahead despite objections from top horse breeders

A stud farm in Co Kildare owned by US billionaire John Malone has failed to prevent controversial plans for a new power station from getting the green light.

This follows An Bord Pleanála granting planning permission for a 212MW Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) in Dunnstown near Two Mile House in rural Co Kildare.

The Appeals Committee found that the proposed BESS “would not adversely affect the blood animal industry”.

An Bord Pleanála’s decision overturns a decision by Kildare County Council to refuse planning permission for the lithium-ion storage facility last year after several of the country’s leading stud farms objected to the proposal, which is located 2km south of Two Mile House and located 5 miles from Kilcullen.

Opponents of the power plant included the Aga Khan’s Sallymount and Giltown Studs, John Malone’s Castlemartin Stud, the Irish National Stud and the Irish Thoroughbred Horsebreeders’ Association.

In all, Kildare County Council received 171 third-party applications, of which only one supported the proposal.

The council refused planning permission after believing the proposal was premature as it required a 220kV power line and the fire safety aspects of the proposal had not been adequately addressed.

The applicant, Strategic Power Projects Ltd, informed the Complaints Committee that there will be no impact on the stud industry from the proposed development.

The BESS is intended to include 76 battery units to be housed in 76 shipping container units on agricultural land.

The case came before Aboard Pleanála after Strategic Power Projects Ltd appealed the Kildare Co Council’s refusal decision and after the operator of Mr Malone’s Castlemartin stud farm, Clementville Ltd, argued that the reasons for the refusal did not go far enough.

Mr. Malone’s MHL Collection, the largest landowner in the US, owns a number of large hotels here, including the five-star Powerscourt Hotel Resort and the Intercontinental in Dublin, while his company Liberty Global owns Virgin Media Ireland.

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John Malone. Image: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

In Clementville Ltd’s appeal, Ann Mulcrone of Reid Associates contended that the proposed development and associated infrastructure “would be an inconsistent development at the heart of Kildare’s equine industry and would adversely affect the operation of the stud farm at Castlemartin Estate”.

The appeals state that there are 20 major stud farms within a 5km radius of Dunnstown, including Aga Khan’s Giltown and Sallymount stud farms, “where one of the most prominent stallions, Sea the Stars, is based”.

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Protest: Conor Maguire (centre) with other local residents at the entrance to a field in Dunnstown, Naas, Co. Kildare where a battery depot is planned. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Ms Mulcrone claimed that investment in the equine industry in Co Kildare “is being jeopardized by the proposed development which would undermine Kildare’s reputation as a safe, risk-free environment for breeding and training quality horses”.

Ms Mulcrone went on to explain that the value of horses at Castlemartin ranged from moderate to extremely valuable and horse purchases for 2016 and 2017 totaled €3.5 million.

Ms Mulcrone explained: “This is part of an ongoing investment plan for Castlemartin in blood stock. This would be seriously compromised and jeopardized by the proposed BESS investment.”

However, the Appeals Committee granted planning permission after concluding that the proposal “would not seriously detract from the visual amenities of the area or have a significant negative impact on the landscape … or would diminish the value of any land nearby.”

The Appeals Committee’s senior planning inspector, Hugh Mannion, found that the proposed development “has minimal capacity to cause an environmental impact on the equine industry”.

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An example of a smaller battery storage plant similar to that planned for Dunnstown in Co Kildare

According to the submitted planning documentation, BESS units allow for the storage of electrical energy when production on the electricity grid exceeds consumption and the energy is fed back into the grid when production falls below consumption.

Such units can mitigate grid challenges like wind farms when there is no wind, and a planning report submitted with the application says “environmentally friendly” BESS units “increase grid reliability.”

The report notes that BESS is not only essential to meeting the renewable energy targets, “but also to meeting the broader goal of carbonising the economy in Ireland”.

https://www.independent.ie/news/environment/212-megawatt-battery-storage-plant-gets-go-ahead-in-kildare-despite-objections-from-top-horse-breeders-42036774.html 212-megawatt battery storage facility at Kildare goes ahead despite objections from top horse breeders

Fry Electronics Team

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