Northern Ireland

County Down offshore wind farm plans to be discussed

Wind turbines
Image caption The consortium plans to build an offshore wind farm off the County Down coast over the next decade

Plans for a new offshore wind farm off the south east coast of County Down coast are to be discussed at a meeting in Newcastle later on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, First Flight Wind business consortium was granted a licence by the Crown Estate to develop an offshore wind farm in the area.

The exact location has not yet been decided, and could be anywhere from the Ards Peninsula to Carlingford Lough.

The consortium has invited over 100 local representatives to the meeting.

Public consultation

They include politicians and business and community leaders from across east County Down.

The meeting, at the Slieve Donard Hotel, has been organised by First Flight Wind to "outline the proposed programme of community consultation".

The plans for the wind farm are very much at the initial stage and it could take over a decade to bring the project to completion.

Before that, it will be subject to a public consultation and Wednesday's meeting is aimed at trying to establish how that process of engagement should proceed.

Representatives from Stormont's Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) are also due to attend the talks.

First Flight Wind is a joint venture between the Northern Ireland company B9 Energy, Dong Energy of Denmark and Renewable Energy Systems (RES), an international renewable energy project developer.

'Significant interest'

The consortium was one of three successful bidders to whom the Crown Estate has granted rights to develop offshore renewable energy sites in Northern Ireland's coastal waters.

The other two are tidal energy projects at Torr Head and Fair Head off the north east coast of County Antrim.

The winning bids were confirmed on 10 October.

The Crown Estate said the competitive tender processes had "attracted significant interest from national and international renewable energy development companies".

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