Belfast Telegraph

Jobs boost as windfarm plan is given green light

By Symon Ross

Planning approval has been granted for a wind farm project in Newtownabbey which will cost £5m and create up to 30 construction jobs.

Irish renewable energy company Gaelectric said it has received planning approval at Carn Hill for a 14 Megawatt wind farm which will consist of six wind turbines and will be capable of generating electricity for around 8,200 homes each year.

Construction work is expected to start in 2011 and will take four to six months to complete.

Gaelectric said it completed an extensive community consultation scheme to update local people on the proposal, which involved turbines that are just over 100 metres tall.

The site at Carn Hill is just one of a number of projects that Gaelectric currently has in planning in Northern Ireland, totalling approximately 130MW.

Gaelectric chief executive Brendan McGrath said: “We have been working on planning for a range of sites in Antrim and Tyrone for a number of years. The Carn Hill approval is very welcome as it heralds the beginning of the execution of the next stage of our development in Northern Ireland.

“It was very helpful over the last several years to be able to deal with the Northern Ireland Executive which was open to the benefits of renewable energy and to finding a solution that would work for the area. We are very thankful for their support.”

A locally-administered fund amounting to £210,000 for community projects will be set up which the company says reiterates its commitment to engaging fully with local people. Gaelectric has also committed to spending up to £5m in construction and operation costs with local companies.

The firm estimates that the project would provide up to 30 construction jobs, with the opportunity for employment in the operation and management of the site and the provision of an educational resource for local schools.

Gaelectric currently has 25 projects at different stages of development on the island of Ireland.

The firm’s first wind farm in Roscommon is expected to be commissioned by the end 2010.

Belfast Telegraph