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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Sean Pollock Email

Owner of German mine at centre of protests plans wind farm in Co Clare

German police carry Greta Thunberg away from RWE's open-cast lignite mine in Germany last week. Photo: AP

The owner of a mine near Lutzerath, a former village in Germany which has been at the centre of environmental protests, has applied for planning permission to build a wind farm in Co Clare.

Earlier this month, German energy group RWE’s Irish subsidiary submitted a planning application to Clare County Council for the Fahy Beg wind farm. Investment in the proposed wind farm, which has attracted opposition locally, and communities is expected to be around €30m over its lifetime.

Commenting on the wind farm, an RWE Ireland spokesman said the estimated capacity of the proposed wind farm could power about 20,000 homes a year.

“RWE Ireland puts meaningful consultation at the heart of its operations, and it has been a cornerstone of the Fahy Beg project,” he said. “We have written to local communities on five separate occasions to engage with them.

“We have gone door-to-door to speak directly with local residents, and have had a series of individual meetings, and a drop-in clinic. We have also provided online consultation materials and information. It is right that everyone shares their views in the consultation process in order for the project to align with both national and regional requirements.

“We have worked closely with Fahybeg & Lackareagh Windfarm Opposition Group and are open to further discussions.”

The spokesman added that a community benefit fund would also be established, which could deliver up to €3m in benefits for communities in the area.

RWE is a global player in renewable energies. It builds and operates large renewable energy assets in 15 countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific.

On its website, RWE said Ireland is “an important new market”. It said it has plans to invest in onshore and offshore wind and battery storage projects, which “could run into many billions of euro of direct foreign investment”.

Outside of renewables, RWE owns the controversial Garzweiler mine near the former village of Lutzerath, from where residents were relocated in 2017.

The mine has been the subject of ongoing protests since 2020.

The remainder of Lutzerath is set to be demolished as RWE prepares to expand the mine. The coal under the former settlement is needed for the increased use of lignite power plants during the current energy crisis in Germany.

The expansion is part of an agreement between RWE and the German government that the utility company could expand the Lutzerath coal mine in exchange for a faster national coal phase-out.

Last week, German police detained climate campaigner Greta Thunberg along with other activists in a protest against the mine. Thunberg and others were later released.

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