Huge step forward for multi-million Euro Silvermines hydro plant

Alan Kelly TD & Darren Quinn of Silvermines Hydro at the site

Plans for a hydro-electric plant in North Tipperary are taking a major step forward this week.

Labour TD Alan Kelly – who has been a major driver of the project – says Silvermines Hydro are starting the pre-planning with An Bord Pleanala today.

Significant co-funding for this phase has been provided by the European Commission.

Deputy Kelly says there is still a long way to go in the planning process.

“This is a huge milestone because even the planning process here takes a long time – it could take up to two years. It could cost up to €10 million – about half of it (€4.3 million) is coming from the European Commission because they see it as a huge project, a project of common interest that has been designated by the EU.

“So this week is a huge milestone in this project and it shows the work that has been going on in the background now for many years is beginning to come to fruition.”

The plant would produce electricity by pumping water between two reservoirs with the lower one being the old open-cast mine and would have the capability of powering up to quarter of a million homes.

Alan Kelly says while the project is still a long way off it will definitely be worth the wait.

“This is a huge project costing up to half a billion. It will commence once planning is granted – there’s two phases to that. There’s a pre-planning component and then there’s an actual planning phase. That can take about 18 months to two years and then construction will start. Once there’s planning permission for this they expect to start construction pretty immediately – now it will take a number of years and then the plant will have to be commissioned fully. It’s expected it would be operating by 2030.”