We aim to provide a positive experience for those living in the locality of a Coillte Wind Farm, not only from a sustainable energy perspective, but also from a local development perspective. To-date we have developed bespoke wind farm Community Benefit Schemes for communities close to our wind farms for the 25 year lifetime of the project. We always look to complement each benefit scheme with an enhanced recreation and tourism offering for the relevant host community of our renewable energy projects.
In Co. Kilkenny, we have identified that there are significant opportunities for this type of development in the South of the County, particularly along the South Leinster Way. There is particular merit for future sustainable development in this part of the county due to the strong infrastructure connectivity already established here i.e communications, road, grid and port accessibility.
The standards that we have set through our work on the development of ‘Community Benefit Schemes’ are recognised as being a national exemplar and a significant contributor to achieving what the NPF describes as ‘Excellence in Rural’. We are the first development company in Ireland to combine an operating wind farm, commercial forestry operations and enhanced amenity and recreation facilities with public access in one location. We are committed to being national leaders in the area of community engagement and as part of this process we have built up expertise in community engagement models, capacity building and the development of community benefit funds.
The design of the scheme is unique to each project and is moving towards a participatory model where the design is driven by the community that both administer and utilise the scheme. The scheme can include: contributing to the improvement of local recreational amenities; supporting local projects that benefit the wider community; and, engaging with local communities in enhancing sustainable energy awareness, use and efficiency. We are further innovating to find ways that enable us to support community based energy efficiency schemes and models which can support community ownership structures within future wind farm developments.
We have a proud heritage and exciting future. We share Kilkenny County Council’s objective to manage our resources carefully and promote sustainable growth, support our citizens in safe and sustainable communities and protect our environment. Coillte continues to remain committed to supporting and helping to deliver on these objectives.
For the reasons we have set out in Section 1.1, Section 3.0, Section 4.0 and Section 5.0, in order for Co. Kilkenny to realise its commitment to support sustainable developments, we submit that the current designations and the historical limits associated with planning designations of areas across the county need to be reassessed as part of the County Development Plan review in order to ensure we can work together to help Ireland to meet its reduction in greenhouse gas emissions targets.
We believe that Coillte lands are well placed to play a key role in the necessary and planned growth and prosperity of our nation and have proven them to have excellent multi-functional and valuable capabilities. We wish to remind you that we are a future thinking and outward looking commercial semi-state partner that is fully aligned to government and EU policy in terms of our approach to proper planning and sustainable development. In all instances and wherever the opportunity arises, we are committed to playing a pivotal role in the innovative and sustainable management of our natural resources.
We have demonstrated responsible leadership across a vast variety of projects. We are committed to the realisation of a better spatially planned nation and adding value to ‘Ireland Inc.’ through our shared aim of planning for the right development to take place in the right places at the right time. Our proven in-house capabilities and expertise can help deliver a better Ireland.
We look forward to the development of a County Development Plan that maximises your county’s potential. We would be happy to engage in dialogue with the Kilkenny County Council at any stage in relation to any specific matters arising.