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A Mighty Wind Farm

Latest press release from Jennifer Whitmore TD, issued on Tuesday, June 30th 2020…

Social Democrats TD for Wicklow Jennifer Whitmore organised an onsite visit to SSE Renewable’s proposed new Operations and Management centre, where activities for the development of Arklow’s Wind Bank Park will be coordinated.

The company is proposing to invest €1-2bn to develop the offshore wind project and recently announced that Arklow Harbour will be home to its Operations and Management activities. Local Councillor Pier Leonard also came along to meet the organisers and raise issues affecting Arklow Harbour.

On her visit to the new site Deputy Whitmore said, “It is very much welcomed that SSE Renewables has decided to base their future operations and maintenance site in Arklow Harbour for Ireland’s first wind farm. Not only is this decision an acknowledgement of Wicklow’s potential as a regional leader for marine planning but also of the potential of Arklow as a key player in marine activity.

“I took up the invitation to visit the proposed site as I believe at this critical stage of development all opportunities for Arklow must be grasped firmly with both hands. I wanted to see for myself how we could maximise on much needed job creation and business development for the area as this project goes ahead. As I toured the new site at Arklow Harbour I discussed with SSE representatives, in detail how and where jobs will be created and maintained in Arklow and surrounds, even beyond the completion of the wind farm project.

“Arklow is expected to benefit with approximately 80 full-time jobs from the offshore wind project. I hope to see many more jobs created in association with the project. For this to happen it is imperative that this project develops Arklow Port which is currently underutilised. Potentially, the new facility could attract local firms to contribute to SSE’s supply chain, specialists in ship repairs and site surveying, fuel supply, hospitality, logistics and stevedoring. SSE Renewables informed me that they will have a public consultation on the onshore grid application and will be in touch with more details soon. This will be a good opportunity for the local community to have their say.

“During the tour of the site I also discussed the potential for energy initiatives for Arklow and surrounding towns and villages. This could be one of the many community benefits associated with the project, which is obliged to coordinate a ‘community fund’. How this ‘fund’ is managed will determine to what extent the local community can benefit further from this development. They have informed me that a consultation process will be underway with the relevant Department on how this fund should be managed to maximise the benefit to local communities. I look forward to this process and will engage closely with communities who could benefit.

“I also proposed to SSE Renewables the potential for educational programmes arising from this development such as the establishment of education programmes including apprenticeships to be provided for people in the local area. This could be done in as part of the Community Fund to be established and in coordination with local schools and third level education facilities.

Also present was Cllr. Pier Leonard (IND) who says, “I would like to thank Deputy Whitmore and SSE for the opportunity to meet with them to discuss their up and coming plans. SSE will bring much needed employment opportunities to Arklow & Co. Wicklow as a whole. I look forward to helping them engage closely with all stakeholders going forward especially our local fishermen and maritime users.”

Deputy Whitmore also said: “Opportunities for Arklow and its residents from this large- scale development, was at the forefront of my discussions with SSE Renewables during the tour of their new site. The possibilities are endless, but we need to make sure that we seize on those opportunities and that SSE Renewables and all stakeholders continue to have conversations around how this project could positively impact on business development in the area. I want to make sure that every opportunity is exploited for immediate and long-term benefit of Arklow’s economy and its residents.

“If Arklow benefits, so too does Wicklow and that needs to be at the forefront of decision making going forward.”