Fianna Fáil TD for Laois Offaly, Barry Cowen, has welcomed the new wind energy hub in Offaly, which has the potential to create over 50,000 jobs in the midlands.

The new ‘Energy Bridge’ wind park will export power to the UK through wind turbines. Deputy Cowen commented: “The ‘Energy Bridge’ project has the potential to transform the midlands. Once the project is fully operational in 2017, it will bring €34 million a year in rates with the potential to create 54,000 jobs in manufacturing, construction, operations and maintenance.

“This project has the potential to kick start the economy in the midlands with a potential benefit of €2.5 billion in export revenue. This will see the Irish midlands supply the UK with a large portion of its energy requirements.”

Deputy Cowen added that the wind farm and cables will be totally separate from Ireland’s electricity system and will cost the tax payer no extra money. “The cables will be completely underground and so won’t be a safety hazard. For every Mega Watt (MW) of energy created there will be the potential of ten jobs and with 5,000 MWs over 50,000 jobs can be created.

“I would like to commend the work of Eddie O’Connor from Mainstream Renewable Power who are behind the project. Also the 900 landowners in the midlands who have granted access to their sites for the ‘Energy Bridge’, their foresight is to be applauded. The farms will continue to be functional and the turbines will only occupy half an acre of land. I understand there will be a Memorandum of Understanding in place between the Irish and British Governments by October, which further formalises the venture.

“This project will guarantee a constant revenue stream for the midlands over the next 20 years and with spin-off jobs and industries set to spring from this, it represents a very exciting time for the economy in the midlands region,” concluded Deputy Cowen.