New Environmental Learning Partnerships in North West

September 07

A new partnership is being built between Roscommon County Council, renewable energy generators Eco Wind, An Taisce the National Trust for Ireland and the community.

A new partnership is being built between Roscommon County Council, renewable energy generators Eco Wind, An Taisce the National Trust for Ireland and the community.

During an innovative training course for teachers from Roscommon, Leitrim and East Galway organised by Roscommon County Council’s, Environmental Awareness Officer, a group of local teachers were taken to visit various environmental management sites, such as a water treatment works, the landfill and finally a new wind turbine site at Largan Hill.  The wind farm is owned by Viridian, developed and operated by Eco Wind Power Ltd and the ‘off take’ electricity is sold to business customers by Energia, another company in the Viridian group.

The operation of the wind farm was explained by Kelly Dallas, the project manager, who introduced the teachers to some of the technical aspects of producing green electricity.  Mr Dallas, , then introduced An Taisce’s energy officer Elizabeth Muldowney, who spoke about the urgent need to get renewable energy onto the grid and some of the compromises that would be needed., These compromises must come from the communities, from the energy providers and from the planners in order to safeguard our energy security in an unpredictable future.

Mr Dallas said he was delighted to represent the Company at events like these to provide understanding of what is a complex business.  “From initial wind surveys, through planning to the end use of the power generated it’s a long process and this needs to be understood. Environmental impact surveys also form a major part in the process so teachers can learn a lot themselves by being part of this programme. On there are a whole series of curriculum based lessons that compliment this type of visit.”

“ I thought that An Taisce would be saying no to turbines because of  snails or something, but windfarms can be built in a sympathetic way and take the snails and other wildlife into account” said one teacher,

 “This whole course has opened my eyes to some of the issues in providing things we take for granted, clean water, rubbish collection, green energy, we will have loads of project ideas for September” she continued.

Suzanne Dempsey, Roscommon Environmental Awareness Officer, brought the organisations and businesses together as part of an in-service training to enable the hundreds of schools in the region that are working towards An Taisce’s Green Flag award to develop some really hands-on locally based lessons.  As an extension to the energy theme for the day the new field based green transport officer from An Taisce’s Green Schools section was also introduced to the teachers. Meike Scholte will be working with local schools to lower their dependence on the car in an initiative which has already saved half a million litres of transport fuel nationwide in the last year.

“Opening communication links between the providers of energy, conservationists and the community that will be affected by the energy generation is vital for the smooth transition to a more sustainable future” said Elizabeth Muldowney. “Initiatives such as these are a fantastic start and we are delighted to be working alongside Eco Wind Power, Energia and  local authorities on this project.”
Energia is one of Ireland’s leading low-carbon-intensity energy suppliers. It currently has 250MW of renewable electricity capacity contracted within its energy portfolio, with a further 300MW of wind farm projects in development across Ireland.

Recently, Energia has started to take energy from a series of new wind farms in Donegal, Sligo and Tipperary. Collectively these farms will supply an additional 30 megawatts of new wind power to Energia’s renewable energy customers throughout Ireland. This development alone will remove 46,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, providing the equivalent power of 18,000 homes.

An Taisce is Ireland’s oldest environmental charity and has recently appointed an energy and transport officer to complete its portfolio of sustainability issues, Elizabeth Muldowney is working on various issues such as overdependency on gas, improving communication beween the major energy players and encouraging specialist third level education opportunities in the energy field.

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