Gaelectric to consult again in Larne early in 2014

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Energy firm Gaelectric is to embark on a third round of community consultations in the new year.

No dates have been set yet by the firm, which hopes to excavate salt layers under Inver for storage of compressed air to power a green power station, supplying electricity to the national grid.

To date, Gaelectric has put its proposals on display at an exhibition in the tourist information centre; explained the scheme at a meeting with Larne Borough Council; and held two public consultations meetings in Larne and Glynn.

Gaelectric says Larne is unique on the island of Ireland in having salt deposits of sufficient thickness to accommodate storage.

However, East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has already voiced concerns about the scale of the power station, which will be on a prominent site on the hills above Larne, and councillors have questioned the value of the investment to the local economy.

When consultations resume, Gaelectric can also expect to be questioned on the environmental impact of its proposals, and not least the potential impact of piping brine – produced by excavating the salt layers with water – in to the sea at Drains Bay.

Gaelectric has already said it has not yet been decided how its planned energy plant will connect to the grid, and there are concerns locally that pylons will be required.