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Wind power requirements

The development of major offshore wind farm off the south Down coast must be preceded by the submission of Environmental Statements to both the Department of the Environment and the Department of Enterprise Trade and Industry. A public notice which appeared in last week’s Reporter revealed that First Flight Wind the organisation behind the 600mw plan has made representations to both Departments in relation to meeting government requirements. The project promoters hope to develop the facility which could provide 20 per cent of Northern Ireland’s energy requirements by 2020. First Flight Wind also published an offshore scoping report for public consultation. A separate onshore scoping report will be published in early 2015 once the options for potential grid connection points have been established. In a statement First Flight spokesman Jack Farnharm said, “The offshore scoping report will establish what  the key issues are with regards the offshore elements of this project for example who or what may be affected by it. It will also outline the methodology and approach used to assess and consider these impacts. After a six-week consultation period a report responding to all comments received during the consultation will be published. The scoping report can be viewed in Kilkeel Library, Newry Library, Warrenpoint Library and Carlingford Tourist Office. The developments come a decade after a number of Newry and Mourne Councillors visited an offshore wind farm near Arklow Co Wicklow. According to a March 2004 article about the visit, “The local councillors had the opportunity to question Airtricity representatives on how the turbines might impinge on the locality including fishing and shipping interests.” Given the imminent nature of the First Flight proposal and the fact that Council has been aware of the potential of such a development on the south Down coast for at least a decade the Reporter asked Council whether it had formulated an official position on wind farms. “The Council does not have an agreed position on wind farms and wind turbines,” the response read. It recognises the important role that renewable technology must play in making us more independent from fossil fuel imports and the important role it will play in tackling climate change and local air quality improvements. “The Council from time to time will be consulted by Planning Service NI on individual planning applications of this nature and in making any response with regard to a number of issues including the level of community support for such applications.” Full planning powers are expected to be transferred to Councils post 2015.


Newry Reporter

5th March 2014