Go-Ahead For NI Green Energy Projects

Three renewable energy projects off the coasts of Down and Antrim have been given the green light.

Licenses have been granted for the projects as the Crown Estate confirms deals with First Flight Wind Ltd, Tidal Ventures and DP Marine Energy Ltd of Ireland, and DEME, of Belgium.

Work on the projects will begin in 2016 and will see the creation of a 600MW wind farm off Ardglass in County Down and two 100MW tidal turbines off Fair Head and Torr Head in County Antrim.

Energy Minister Arlene Foster greeted the news.

She said: "The development of offshore renewables is an excellent opportunity for Northern Ireland in so many ways."

The Minister spoke of the "energy security and diversity; climate change mitigation; a contribution to the Executive's 2020 targets and the business supply chain opportunities for local companies over the next few years as these projects come on stream."

The developers will now meet local stakeholders and undertake environmental assessments of the projects to secure marine licences and electricity consents.

40% of Northern Ireland’s electricity must come from renewable sources by 2020, according to targets set by the Executive.

The new developments are thought to be capable of meeting up to a fifth of the requirements.

The director of First Flight Wind, Michael Harper, said there would be development opportunities for other companies in the project's construction.

"We recognise that the development of an offshore wind farm off the County Down coast will generate local interest and debate," he said.

"We are looking forward to meeting and consulting with local communities so that we can identify issues of concern, explore solutions and design a project that will be a positive asset to the local community and to Northern Ireland."


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