Larne is in danger of becoming the “most blighted town in Northern Ireland”, East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has warned.
The DUP representative stated his opposition to energy firm Gaelectric’s proposal to seek planning permission for a compressed air energy station overlooking the town at Inver.
He said:” It seems that if it were to get the go-ahead, then Larne would become the most blighted town in Northern Ireland, with a huge industrial complex on one area on high ground to the north and a power station on a hill to the south and the hills lined with 320ft turbines on the way into the town, if the three wind farm proposals that are currently being considered – and which would be the source of energy to drive the compressors at this power station – were to be given the go-ahead.”
Mr Wilson claimed the power plant would have a “devastating impact” at Inver, revealing that he is already receiving complaints from people adversely affected by the noise of the drilling to ascertain whether or not there is sufficient salt to form the caverns required to store the compressed air.
“It is preposterous,” he added, “to think that any planning application for a five-storey high, 300m long power station would be allowed at this location. If there is already visual and noise disturbance simply from the exploratory drilling which is being carried out, how much more of an adverse impact will there be on this rural setting and on the residential properties in the town area of Inver from a power station which will have a compressor running continuously and then a turbine running, driven by the release of compressed air from the salt chambers below?
“Add to this the visual impact of power lines to and from the station, floodlighting around the station and the traffic that will be generated by this proposal that will be built over five to seven acres of farm land, and one can see that this is not an acceptable development at this location.”
Mr Wilson, who is well known for his scepticism on global warming and renewable energy, claimed: “The irony of all of this is that we would be despoiling the countryside to produce the most expensive energy known to man, and consumers would not even benefit from the proposal either.
“Hopefully, this application will not be given any support by the Planning Service, though given the policies being pursued by the Northern Ireland Executive at present, the great danger is that almost anything will be sacrificed in order to meet the targets for renewable energy.”