Gravis Director and RTPI NI Chair, Chris Bryson, gives views on NI Assembly planning debate
16 February 2024
13 September 2023
Online and remote stakeholder consultation is now much more of an expectation in new infrastructure projects. For SSE Thermal’s Tarbert Next Generation Power Station project, we sought to exceed these expectations by teaming up with web developers 3DW to provide a cutting-edge virtual experience to supplement in-person consultation events.
The project itself will see the site of the Tarbert Power Station in County Kerry transformed, with the existing oil-fired plant due to close by the end of 2023 and replaced with a new plant fuelled by a sustainable biofuel; Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO). This proposed development will support the security of electrical power supply, the continued expansion of Ireland’s renewable generation capacity and would provide essential support to the electricity supply system at times of peak demand and at times when other electricity generation sources are not sufficient to meet demand.
Gravis supported SSE Thermal and 3DW in designing an immersive virtual consultation room that simulated the experience of visiting a real-life public consultation event. This gave the Tarbert Next Generation Power Station project’s public consultation a much greater online presence and led to a higher level of engagement with the project. These virtual offerings have become increasingly prevalent as part of consultation on major new projects; they elevate the standard of stakeholder engagement and make gathering feedback a more accessible process. As well as reaching those who may not be able to attend in-person consultation events because of other commitments, virtual consultations also accommodate those who are physically unable to travel to or access their local community centre or town hall. This provides all stakeholder groups with an opportunity to learn about the project, provide feedback and help to shape the proposals.
We were delighted to work with SSE Thermal; their commitment to maximising opportunities to engage with the communities provide a solid foundation for the Tarbert Next Generation Power Station project as it progresses through the planning process.