Northern Ireland

County Down offshore wind farm plans scrapped

Offshore wind farm Image copyright Reuters
Image caption First Flight Wind consortium has decided not to go ahead with plans for an offshore wind farm

An energy consortium has scrapped plans for Northern Ireland's first major offshore wind farm.

The £1bn project would have seen up to 100 turbines placed by First Flight Wind off the south-east coast of County Down.

It would have created between 80 and 100 jobs.

The area's SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie said she was disappointed "regulatory requirements had made the project unviable".

In a statement, the consortium said delays meant the project could no longer be built by 2021, which was "required under new market rules."

It added: "First Flight Wind believes this to be a disappointing outcome for all involved."

The project has been worked on for several years, but has been shelved before it secured planning consent and other approvals.

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Media captionEnterprise Minister Arlene Foster called the decision disappointing

In 2011, the Crown Estate, which owns the UK seabed, identified the project zone, and a year later First Flight Wind was selected to operate it within its boundaries.

The farm was to have been operational by 2020, cutting Northern Ireland's dependence on imported fuel to run its power stations.

Ms Ritchie said it was regrettable that job opportunities had been lost and she would be seeking a meeting with the Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster.

The wind farm aimed to provide around 13% of Northern Ireland's energy.

Green Party MLA Steven Agnew said the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) "must shoulder" some of the blame.

"DETI have not persuaded the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to be flexible regarding the how renewable incentives will progress in Northern Ireland.

"The failure to anticipate the knock-on effect of this heel-dragging has rendered this massive project no longer viable.

"It is frustrating and disappointing that we are lagging so far behind GB in the arena of renewable energy."

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