31/07/2008

"Squandered" Potential Of NI Renewable Energy Industry

The alleged "paralysis" of the Northern Ireland planning system is hampering efforts to establish a viable renewable energy industry in the Province, according to a senior Airtricity director.

Mark Ennis, Head of Strategy for the wind power generator, has called on the Stormont Executive to overcome planning backlogs and support "squandered" renewable energy potential.

Mr Ennis's comments came after the Scottish Executive agreed to the development of Europe's largest wind farm, a move, which First Minister Alex Salmond said will make Scotland the "green capital of Europe".

Mr Ennis has now urged the NI devolved government to take the same pro-active approach to renewable energy projects.

He said: "In Northern Ireland we have the natural resources and we have the support of the public for developing renewable energy products.

"Those two factors combined mean that Northern Ireland has an opportunity to lead in the development of wind energy infrastructure but the Executive and the Assembly must inject some urgency into the process of facilitating and supporting renewable energy projects."

However, Mr Ennis has said there was a marked improvement in the handling of individual planning cases in Northern Ireland.

"Our potential is equal to Scotland's - obviously not in megawatts (MWs) because they have more geographic landmass - but in terms of being an energy exporter as opposed to an energy importer, there's a huge potential for Northern Ireland," added Mr Ennis.

Presently, renewable potentials are being "squandered", according to Mr Ennis, who highlighted the every increasing energy price crisis, impacting families and businesses all over the world.

(PR/JM)

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