Belfast Telegraph

Plans for Northern Ireland's biggest wind farm are dead in the water, say authorities

By Staff Reporter

The Crown Estate says it has no current plans to re-let the stretch of seabed off the Co Down coast that was due to become Northern Ireland's biggest wind farm.

First Flight wind consortium, which dramatically pulled the plug on the project earlier this week, says there is no chance that it will ever re-enter the process.

It says its contract of exclusivity with the Crown Estate has now been terminated and it is now up to the Crown Estate to decide what to do next.

The Crown Estate told the Belfast Telegraph that it has no plans "at this time" to re-let the seabed, but maintains that the site still presents a good opportunity for offshore wind energy.

Huub den Rooijen, the Crown Estate's Head of Offshore Wind, said the announcement would be disappointing for many.

"However, we remain confident that the area off the County Down coast remains one of good wind resource and we will continue to work with DETI and local stakeholders to understand what role offshore wind development can play in Northern Ireland over the long term," he said.

First Flight director Michael Harper said he had been inundated with calls from all sectors in the wake of the announcement, including the electricity industry, supply side companies, training providers, local stakeholders, development agents, politicians and fishermen.

"Obviously there has been huge disappointment expressed and it's seen as a blow to Northern Ireland's prospects," he said.

"A number of people have been very impressed with the stakeholder engagement which is gratifying.

"I think there will be no doubt that we will be engaged with the Crown Estate, which I assume will involve the Department (of Energy and Climate Change) to engage in a lessons learned process.

"There are probably going to be lessons learned at different levels, at policy level, at UK level and at local level.

"It's a failure for us, but it's a failure at all levels, because Northern Ireland plc did not achieve what it needed. The net result is that this capacity will go elsewhere."

Mr Harper added that there was nothing that could now bring First Flight back into the project, which was expected to deliver one fifth of Northern Ireland's energy needs.

Further reading

First Flight Wind farm loss a serious blow

Axeing of offshore wind project could cost NI jobs: energy boss

Trawlerman breathe sigh of relief as fears over impact on their fishing grounds dissipate

Wind farm shock: Important project had the potential to create thousands of local jobs

Wind farm axed: Good progress must not be wasted because of new market rules

Blown away: £1bn wind farm project for Northern Ireland axed 

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