Substation gets green light from planners

Proposed substation at Rasharkin.
Proposed substation at Rasharkin.

PLANS to erect a new wind farm cluster substation on the outskirts of Rasharkin have been approved by the Planning Service.

The news was revealed during a recent Council meeting after Cllr Cathal McLaughlin responded to a proposal by Cllr John Finlay who requested an Environmental Impact Assessment on the proposal.

Only last month the issue was raised in the chamber following a presentation from two NIE officials who came along to discuss the Mid-Antrim Cluster Connection plans which was then awaiting planning permission.

David de Casseres, Director Transmission Projects and Michael Hewitt, Transmission Project Manager, highlighted the proposal to erect the substation on farm land between Finvoy and Rasharkin and to connect it into the Kells to Coleraine 110kV line.

 However, councillors hit back at the news, stating major concerns over the health and safety of residents, the environmental impact, property value as well as interference and damage to the local ‘cross-community’ model plane flying club. 

Speaking at last Monday’s meeting, Cllr Finlay raised the issue stating: “I propose we write to the Minister responsible and ask them for an Environmental Impact Assessment to be done on this. People are not happy and are expressing many concerns including health issue problems. We should also ask why one was not done originally.

“As Chair I am not meant to make proposals but this is a very important issue and I feel very strongly so I will.”

In response Cllr Cathal McLaughlin explained: “You’re too late, the substation has been approved by planners already, the letter was on our desks.”

Questioning, Cllr Finlay asked: “How is that possible? Sure they can only make a recommendation and come forward to Council with an opinion to approve this. Well let’s still ask for an Impact Assessment to be done anyway.”

Cllr Evelyne Robinson suggested: “As Cllr Finlay is not in a position to make the proposal then I will.”

Concluding Cllr Finlay added: “When the application comes before Council at the planning meeting, we’ll just put it back.”