Belfast Telegraph

Windfarm developers 'test the waters' for offshore project

BY CLARE WEIR

A company planning a new offshore windfarm near the coast of Co Down is to host a series of information evenings for the public.

First Flight Wind is a consortium made up of B9 Energy, DONG Energy and RES.

DONG is also behind a £50m plant building wind turbines in Belfast, transforming the port into a hub for such wind construction.

The firm is currently undertaking two years of project design and assessment work in order to make applications for permission to construct the wind farm. If permission is granted, the wind farm could provide up to a fifth of Northern Ireland's electricity and be operational by 2020, which could help meet renewable energy and carbon targets, reduce fuel imports and create jobs.

The proposed site would have a capacity of 600 megawatts (MW) and could be one of the largest infrastructure projects ever carried out in Northern Ireland.

The Crown Estate, as the owner of the UK seabed, launched a tender to select a developer for the project and First Flight Wind was selected in October 2012.

The building of the offshore wind farm is subject to First Flight Wind being successful in gaining all necessary consents.

First Flight will be investigating the visual impact on seascape and landscape, the potential impact on commercial fisheries, ports and harbours, protected sites and species and recreation.

The latest stage of the investigations will be to measure 'metocean conditions' – the physical environment of the area where the wind farm may be sited – using two floating buoys.in October.

The windfarm could be as little as 8km offshore and 40km wide.

Michael Harper, director of First Flight Wind, said that while the proposed wind farm is still in the very early stages, he hoped that it could create a big boost to the Northern Ireland economy.

The information days will be held from September 9 to Thursday September 19. For a full list of venues log on to http://www.firstflightwind.com/information-days

Belfast Telegraph