Plans to construct a green energy power plant on a Larne hillside have almost been finalised, it has emerged.
Dublin-based renewable energy company Gaelectric wants to build a £300 compressed air energy storage (CAES) facility - only the third of its kind anywhere in the world - at Carnduff on the outskirts of the town.
Compressed air would be stored deep underground in caverns specifically created for this purpose within geological salt layers.
A method known as leaching will be used form the caverns, and the waste salt solution –or brine as it is known – will then be pumped out into the sea off Islandmagee.
Gaelectric recently embarked on another round of public consultation in Islandmagee, Glynn and Larne, giving local residents and interest groups an opportunity to view the latest developments regarding the proposals.
Speaking to the Times at the consultation event in Larne Town Hall, Brendan McGrath, CEO of Gaelectric said: “We are now more or less in our final iteration of the design of the overall project.
“We have confirmed the brine route, the design and location of the caverns, and practically the final design of the building.”
Gaelectric hopes to submit its planning application for the project by the end of August or early September.
A final round of consultation will take place prior to the application being lodged.
The company estimates that between 90-100 people attended the recent consultation events, compared with about 160 at the previous round in March.
A Larne councillor has said he remains “unimpressed” by Gaelectric’s proposals following the latest round of community consultation.
Cllr Gregg McKeen has previously voiced his reservations over the project, citing “grave concerns” on issues such as the noise and visual impact of the proposed compressed air energy storage facility.
He has also expressed fears surrounding the discharge of brine, as well as the issue of heavy vehicle traffic on rural roads during the project’s construction period.
And, having attended the consultation event at Larne Town Hall, Cllr McKee said: “I have seen very little to sway my opinion on the project.
“Despite the fact that some aspects of the plan are nearing completion, there is still a lack of detail on several important issues, such as noise levels.
“As far as I am concerned, the company has been taking baby steps in terms of making progress on these issues.”