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Northern Ireland's largest wind farm blows £36m into economy

Businesses in Co Londonderry have benefited to the tune of £36m with the opening of Northern Ireland's largest wind farm.

Developed by SSE Renewables to power Northern Ireland's second largest energy provider Airtricity, the 73MW Slieve Kirk Wind Park has been built at a total capital investment cost of £125m, of which £36m has been spent directly with around 75 local supply chain businesses supporting local jobs and enterprise.

SSE has pledged a further £18.5m towards the economy over the next 25 years through annual commercial rates payments, landowner lease contributions and community funding.

The site combines the original 27MW Slieve Kirk wind farm near Ardmore with a 46MW expansion of capacity developed at Glenconway Hill, outside Limavady, and was developed by SSE Renewables and principal contractor Gaelforce Renewables.

The wind farm is expected to generate enough green energy to power over 65,000 homes, further contributing to Northern Ireland's 40% target of renewable electricity generation by 2020.

Since it first entered the energy market here in 2008, SSE has invested £400m into Northern Ireland's energy infrastructure.

One of the businesses which has benefitted is Radar Security. Ray Devlin began his career as a self-employed security guard but now employs 12 people and specialises in securing wind farms and construction sites.

"SSE have given me a lot of feedback and I have used this to improve on the work we have carried out in the past to offer a better service in the future," he said.

The Slieve Kirk Community Fund has also handed out around £75,000 each year since 2008 to help fund 24 community-backed energy efficiency projects from the surrounding areas.

After officially opening the wind farm yesterday, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "The building of this wind farm has not only contributed to our renewable energy target but also delivered economic benefits for local companies and supported local jobs."

Paul Cooley, general manager in Ireland for SSE Renewables, added: "Through the development of Slieve Kirk Wind Park we have been able to demonstrate this commitment to our communities by ensuring that local workers and the local supply chain can reap the benefit of this wind farm."

Belfast Telegraph