Hundreds of concerned people have signed a petition against plans to build a new green energy power station in Islandmagee.
There are fears a proposal by Dublin-based renewable energy company Gaelectric to create a compressed air energy storage (CAES) facility will have a devastating impact on the value of nearby homes.
Concerns have also been voiced over the potential environmental impact of the project, noise pollution and an increase in heavy vehicle traffic in the area.
Over 30 people attended a public meeting hosted by Gaelectric in the Curran Court Hotel, Larne last week, where the project team was on hand to answer questions.
Speaking after the meeting, Quarterland Road resident Geoff Hunter said: “I came away from the meeting feeling very deflated and frustrated.
“I get the impression that the company was going to railroad this project through no matter what concerns we have.”
Geoff is a member of a campaign group set up by eight residents – whose properties overlook the proposed site.
A number of members have had their homes re-valued by estate agents, who warned that the value of these properties will drop dramatically if the project goes ahead.
The group’s main objective is to pursue compensation with Gaelectric to cover this predicted fall in the market value of their homes.
Geoff added: “We wanted something in writing from the company on the issue of compensation, but they said they would not be doing this until construction has commenced.
“There is a lot of strong feeling in Islandmagee surrounding this project. A petition has been launched and already has about 300 names on it.”
A spokesperson from the Gaelectric’s project team told the Times: “Local residents are important to us and we are grateful for their time in attending this and other meetings, and their inputs into the project to date.
“We recognise that only time and our actions will earn the trust and support of residents and the community for the project. This is something that we are completely committed to achieving. We will continue to engage positively with this group and our other stakeholders as the project progresses.”
The CAES project – which represents an investment of £800m – would see the creation of underground caverns to store energy in the form of compressed air. Salt deposits up to 1900m below ground have been selected as an ideal location for the caverns to be created, with a power station to be located directly above.