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Scottish First Minister and Irish Climate Action Minister unveil wind energy sustainability report

Tuesday 29 November 2016

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon visited SSE’s Irish headquarters to unveil a report which shows that Galway Wind Park has already contributed €88.7m to Irish Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The 169MW project is being jointly delivered by Scotland-based SSE and Coillte, Ireland’s state commercial forestry company, and is the largest of its kind currently under construction in Ireland. When completed in late 2017, it will be the country’s largest onshore wind farm, contributing significantly to Ireland’s 2020 target of producing 40 per cent of electricity from renewable sources.

The First Minister was joined by the Irish Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, to launch the new ‘Galway Wind Park Sustainability Impact Report’. The report outlines the valuable economic, environmental and social impacts the development of the wind energy site is delivering locally and nationally through this Scottish-Irish partnership.

In addition to its GDP contribution, construction of Galway Wind Park is so far responsible for supporting 1,657 years of full-time employment in Ireland. Regionally, more than 100 local businesses have provided products and services to the project, representing a €20m spend with the local supply chain in Co. Galway. The report also shows that at peak construction 63 per cent of all civil contract workers and 43 per cent of all grid connection contract workers lived within 30km of the site.

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, said:
"The Galway Wind Park project and SSE’s expansion in Ireland is a fantastic demonstration of the strong collaboration between Scottish and Irish enterprises.

"Today’s report shows the impact that this development is having, both in terms of creating jobs and generating sustainable energy. I’m delighted that a Scottish company is behind this.

"Through our innovation and investment hub which opened in Dublin last year, we aim to further develop initiatives like this. A number of new Scottish investment wins have been landed this year and through the strong network the hub continues to develop with Irish-based investors, further projects are in the pipeline.

"Ireland has always been and will continue to be a key economic partner for Scotland. It is even more important than ever that our two countries work together for the benefit of both our nations."

Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, said:
"It is essential that we all continue to fully engage in measures to control our greenhouse gas emissions. Action on climate change is both a duty and an opportunity that everyone needs to play their part in. Galway Wind Park is a perfect example of bringing people along with community benefit and engagement."

First Minister Sturgeon and Minister Naughten were accompanied for the launch by SSE plc Finance Director, Gregor Alexander, and Coillte Chief Executive Officer, Fergal Leamy.

Gregor Alexander, SSE, said:
“On behalf of SSE I am delighted to welcome the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, to our Corporate Headquarters on the first day of her visit to Ireland. As a Scottish-based company that has invested over €2billion into growing our business in Ireland and into developing trusted relationships with our customers here, we recognise the invaluable economic, social and cultural links that exist between our two countries.  

"I'm particularly pleased that the First Minister has been able to join Climate Action Minister Naughten and our project partner Coillte in launching the Galway Wind Park Sustainability Impact Report.  As the report highlights this development is making a massive contribution to the local and national economy.  We are very proud of the joint efforts made by everyone on the team to leave an enduring legacy that will remain long after the completion of this important energy project."

Fergal Leamy, Coillte, said:
"In Ireland today, there is a healthy debate around the future of wind energy and ensuring local communities benefit from their development. Scotland has led the way in this regard with innovative funding models where local communities take equity stakes in local wind farm developments. As Coillte, we are already embedded in every local community in the country and we believe that such innovative solutions will need to be considered as part of future wind development in this country and we all need to work even harder to partner with local communities on the journey to a low carbon economy in Ireland."

The First Minister of Scotland is officially visiting Ireland Monday and Tuesday to celebrate the strength of the Scottish-Irish relationship, and to encourage further collaboration. During her visit to SSE First Minister Sturgeon also had the opportunity to meet a selection of SSE colleagues who are representative of the working relationships that exist in SSE between its Ireland and Scotland bases

About the ‘Galway Wind Park Sustainability Impact Report’
The ‘Galway Wind Park Sustainability Impact Report’ summarises some of the key sustainability – environmental, social and economic – impacts resulting from the construction of Ireland’s largest onshore wind farm. The analysis was undertaken by the Galway Wind Park team on behalf of SSE and Coillte. The Input-Output (I-O) economic model was used to calculate the economic impact of the project to the wider Irish economy. This model estimates the direct impact from project expenditure in Ireland, as well as the ripple effect across the economy from supplier and contractor expenditure and employees spending their wages. Using construction expenditure data up to the end of October 2016, the economic contribution to Irish GDP was estimated along with the years of full-time employment supported. The report will be launched locally in the coming weeks.

Click here to view the full Galway Wind Park Sustainability Impact Report.