Gaelectric slams rival noise report for proposed Islandmagee plant

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Gaelectric has rejected claims by an independent noise expert hired by opponents of its proposed Islandmagee Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) plant .

The statement is contained in an appendix submitted by the firm in support of its proposal for a £300 million facility which would store compressed air in underground caves before releasing it to generate electricity when demand is high.

The Stop Gaelectric campaign group had previously raised concerns over noise and the impact of pumping brine, the plant’s waste by-product, on marine life. The campaigners hired Acoustic Consultant Dick Bowdler, who claimed in a report that neighbouring houses would experience “highly significant” noise which had been underestimated by “at least 13 decibels.”Describing Gaelectric’s assessments as “quite wrong,” Mr Bowdler said that there would be a “significant adverse impact on many properties.”

He added that “a more robust and transparent analysis of the background noise levels is required.”

In response, Gaelectric states that the typical noise levels were reviewed by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Environmental Health Officer and were “deemed to be appropriate.”

Referring to concerns over noise at nearby homes, the report says that “all assumptions in the Dick Bowdler report are based on basic rudimentary calculations as opposed to the detailed CadnaA Noise Model that was prepared and used to derive the noise predictions” in its own assessments.

Responding to Mr Bowdler’s estimate of plant noise, Gaelectric claims that “all of this commentary is based on basic calculations which do not stand up to scrutiny when compared to the outputs from a detail noise model incorporating all of the relevant detail in the study area.”

Regarding the plant’s recuperators and cooling towers, the firm states that due to planning approval “it will not be possible for the operator to operate using plant specifications that are noisier than those that have been assessed.” It adds that the plant used wthin the building “will not generate external noise levels that will increase predicted noise levels above what was assessed” in the applicant’s environmental statement.