Islandmagee power plant application ‘not tactical’, says Gaelectric

Gaelectric project team with the application and environmental statement shortly before it was delivered to Planning Service before Christmas. Pictured are Louis Wildenboer (chief planning officer), Keith McGrane (head of energy storage) and Conall Haughey (project programme manager). Also pictured are Susan Hickey and Sinead Geoghegan of the project team.  INLT 05-651-CON
Gaelectric project team with the application and environmental statement shortly before it was delivered to Planning Service before Christmas. Pictured are Louis Wildenboer (chief planning officer), Keith McGrane (head of energy storage) and Conall Haughey (project programme manager). Also pictured are Susan Hickey and Sinead Geoghegan of the project team. INLT 05-651-CON

Renewable energy firm Gaelectric has dismissed a claim that it sought to avoid publicity by lodging a planning application days before Christmas.

The Dublin-based company – which wants to create a compressed air storage facility on the northern end of Islandmagee – submitted its application with planners on December 23.

The Times has been contacted by a concerned resident, who believes the company was attempting to fly under the radar by submitting the plans during the Christmas holiday period.

But a spokesman for Gaelectric has rejected the accusation, stating: “There was no tactical consideration in submitting the application when we did.

“It was always our intention to lodge the plans before the end of 2015.

“We had made a commitment to the Islandmagee community, planners and our stakeholders and we wanted to honour that.”

Gaelectric chief executive Brendan McGrath described the submission of the planning application and environmental statement as a “significant milestone for the project”.

He added: “It is the culmination of almost a decade of work by the project team of planners, engineers, architects, designers, environmental and marine scientists, and energy experts.

“We have also had a positive and constructive engagement with the community of Larne and Islandmagee, and their representatives, around the project.

“We now move forward to the statutory phase of the planning process.

“I expect that the application and environment statement will shortly become available to the public through the Northern Ireland planning portal and at official consultation venues.

“We look forward to further engagement with Planning Services, which will be followed by their decision in due course,” Mr McGrath concluded.