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People living near wind farms could get money off their bills under an RES scheme

People living near wind farms could get money off their bills under an RES scheme

PA Wire/Press Association Images

People living near wind farms could get money off their bills under an RES scheme

Residents living near wind farms could receive up to £200 off their annual electricity bills under a new scheme proposed by one of Northern Ireland's biggest energy companies.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood has backed the initiative and claimed wind farm host communities should be entitled to tangible benefits.

"I believe renewable energy is the single biggest economic opportunity for this island and that the transition to a low carbon economy can be developed in a way that respects and benefits local communities," Mr Attwood said.

The discount scheme has been put forward by renewable energy company RES which has planning applications for developments at Altaveedan near Loughguile, Co Antrim, Barr Cregg near Claudy and Craiggore near Garvagh, in Co Londonderry.

The company said more than 600 properties would be eligible for the £200 bill reduction which would be paid throughout the operational lifetime of a wind farm - around 25 years.

RES said householders and business owners would get the payout regardless of who their electricity supplier was.

Communities would also benefit from contributions of £2,000 per megawatt to local organisations.

"From consulting with communities near both existing and potential development sites, it became clear that being able to reduce electricity bills was a practical benefit that communities would be really keen to see," said Lucy Whitford, head of development for Ireland with RES.

Since the early 1990s, RES, which employs 20 people at its plant in Larne, has developed 15 wind farms in Northern Ireland and four in the Republic of Ireland.