Construction of £107m waste energy plant at Bombardier Belfast base will create 20 jobs
A major £107m waste energy farm will help power aerospace giant Bombardier's Belfast factory as well as creating around 20 new full-time jobs.
The farm - which is thought to be the largest of its kind in Northern Ireland - is expected to create as many as 250 jobs during its construction.
Much of the power will go towards powering Bombardier's wing production at its base in east Belfast - where the troubled CSeries jet is part-made.
The commercial and industrial waste used will help divert tonnes which would normally be destined for landfill. It's due to be completed in 2017.
The 14.8MW 'Belfast Waste for Energy' site is being built by a consortium of investors, called Full Circle Generation Limited.
It includes Co Londonderry headquartered RiverRidge Energy, UK Green Investment Bank plc, Equitix and P3P Partners.
It's been heralded as a "significant day" for Northern Ireland's waste management sector, according to RiverRidge Energy managing director Brett Ross.
"The delivery of this critical piece of infrastructure provides a number of stakeholders with a world class facility capable of recovering energy from waste in an environmentally sensitive and acceptable manner as well as the provision of a meaningful base load of renewable energy for Bombardier.
"With the design and preliminary site activities having already begun on the project, the developers are confident of achieving target operational date of late 2017."
And the announcement comes as high energy costs were one of the main reasons for Ballymena-based tyre maker Michelin's dramatic withdrawal from Northern Ireland.
A total of 860 jobs will be lost in total when the firm exits.
Factory manager John Milsted said the company had held talks with the Utility Regulator about ways of mitigating its energy costs, estimated at £9m a year.
Welcoming the new energy farm, Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said it would benefit the Northern Ireland economy as a whole.
"As well as creating 250 construction jobs and 20 full-time posts once the facility is operational, it will also provide a competitive energy source for Bombardier, which is our largest manufacturing employer."
One of the backers, the Green Investment Bank, was set up by the Government in 2012 pledging loans to 'green' projects.
Bombardier - which will be powered in part by the new farm - hasn't been far away from the headlines in the last few weeks, amid fears over the future of its CSeries jets - which is failing to fill up its order books in a market dominated by Airbus and Boeing. It has fetched just 243 orders instead of the projected 300.
Canada's new government is being asked to provide a massive bailout for the planemaker. The announcement of the new waste energy project comes just weeks after Environment Minister Mark H Durkan refused an application for the £240m facility on the old Hightown quarry site near Newtownabbey after complaints from thousands of residents and concerns over the impact on recycling rates.